US-based crab supplier Handy Seafood is joining the growing number of seafood companies rolling out plant-based alternative seafood products.

The company announced this week it is launching its plant-based "crabless" cake for what it says is the fast-growing "flexitarian" consumer market.

The product is being manufactured at the company's Crisfield, Maryland, facility.

Handy’s crabless cake, designed to mimic the traditional Maryland crab cake the company is famous for, is made with a proprietary pea and wheat protein blend and has 10 grams of protein per serving, the company said.

“We're proud to elevate the category by delivering a savory and delicious plant-based product that consumers crave," said Lion Gardner, director of product development at Handy Seafood.

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Blurring the lines

Handy joins a growing number of seafood and non-seafood companies that are marketing alternative seafood products made from plant-based ingredients.

In November, plant-based food company Sophie’s Kitchen signed a deal with seafood distributor Southwind Foods, which will now offer the company's plant-based seafood and other products alongside its full line of traditional seafood items.

The partnership marks family-owned Southwind Foods' entrance into the plant-based food space.

The deal gives Sophie's Kitchen access to Southwind Foods' national sales force and tens of thousands of distribution points across foodservice and retail.

Last year, German frozen seafood group Frosta debuted its new plant-based seafood startup Fisch Vom Feld, which translates to "Fish From the Field."

Seafood giants such as Bumble Bee, Nomad Foods and Thai Union are also investing in the alternative seafood space.

Not everyone in the seafood industry supports the continued growth of plant-based seafood alternatives, which some say are intentionally masquerading as fish and shellfish to fool consumers.

Recently, the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), the leading US seafood trade association, stepped up its call to stop plant-based seafood manufacturers from labeling their products as seafood and gaining an "unfair marketing advantage."

NFI President John Connelly said the issue is among the most frustrating he has dealt with in the seafood industry over the past five years.

Plant-based Seafood: The Threats and Opportunities
Learn more about the growing alternative seafood sector with our comprehensive report into top plant-based and lab-grown seafood suppliers as well as the risks and opportunities associated with the sector.