Plant-based seafood Good Catch hooks a round of celebrity investors

Dive Brief:

  • Gathered Foods, the makers of Good Catch plant-based tuna, announced celebrities Woody Harrelson, Shailene Woodley, Paris Hilton and Lance Bass have invested in the company.
  • A spokesperson for Gathered Foods told Food Dive in an email that this investment is in addition to the financing gained from previous funding rounds but that “due to confidentiality agreements with the investors, we’re unable to share amounts on these particular investments.”
  • These celebrity investments come shortly after the company raised $32 million in a series B funding round in January, with investment from Lightlife parent company Greenleaf Foods and General Mills venture arm 301 Inc.

Dive Insight:

Good Catch has been making waves in the plant-based protein space since it was founded in 2016. It’s ramping up its financing as it plans to grow even more. Within four years, the company has drummed up at least $50.7 million in funding, according to Crunchbase, and is now adding celebrity faces to the mix. 

The growing brand uses a blend of peas, chickpeas, lentils, soy, fava beans and navy beans, with umami flavor from seaweed and algae extracts to make a product that looks, tastes and behaves like tuna fish at a time when plant-based products are booming. Investment in alternative protein, both plant-based and cell-based options, hit $930 million in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Good Food Institute. It is clear there is a lot of financial support in this space and Good Catch is going to need to continue to hook a portion of its own to compete.​

The plant-based seafood company has also attracted big partnerships in the space. Tuna titan Bumble Bee Foods partnered with the company in March to help expand its plant-based fish distribution to consumers in North America and Europe as well as enter Asia. Shortly after, Gathered Foods announced the president and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods was the newest member of its board of directors.

Despite all this investment, the seafood startup’s products are currently only available in 4,500 retail outlets across the United States and the U.K. In a recent release from the company, it said it has plans for additional international retail partners later this year.

In the faux seafood space, Good Catch has competition. It is coming up against New Wave, which has the institutional support of Tyson Foods, and San Francisco-based startup Prime Roots, which has created faux salmon burger out of fungi and algae. Formerly known as Terramino Foods, Prime Roots raised $4.25 million in seed funding in 2018.

Still, Good Catch is widening the gulf between itself and other plant-based seafood solutions with this most recent funding announcement.

Celebrity investments in brands are not just transactions for cold hard cash. Instead, they can offer an avenue to bring legitimacy and attention to a brand that may otherwise get lost in the sea of CPG companies. From Katy Perry to Beyoncé, big name celebrities have been amassing stakes in food and beverage startups that they believe in and bringing along their fans as consumers, which could help a lesser known product like plant-based tuna. 

Despite the attention garnered for a brand when a celebrity invests, it can have downsides, since consumers intrinsically link brands with the famous face endorsing them through investment. Jeetendr Sehdev, a celebrity branding authority, conducted a survey of 1,500 people in the U.S. to find out the impact on brands when celebrities find themselves in trouble after supporting a product. He found that 1 in 5 would be less inclined to purchase a product backed by a celebrity convicted of a DUI.

Still, the upsides of celebrity investment for brands are significant. More often than not, celebrities are seeking out products they consume or support because they want to have a personal stake in watching the companies grow — in addition to continuing to earn cash. This personal investment can lead to creative collaborations and long term support for a brand, something that Good Catch likely wants to net.

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