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LETTER: Why are we allowing plants masquerading as seafood to exhibit at Boston, Brussels seafood shows?

Writer takes issue with the seafood catering to plant-based competitors.

The following letter was sent to IntraFish by Guy Dean, vice president and chief sustainability officer at Albion Farms and Fisheries, in response to the story "What the heck is a 'seagan' diet?"

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Earlier this month I read with interest the new initiative from the UK seafood trade group Seafish called “seaganism." It’s a campaign to create a healthy seafood and plant-based diet, and I applaud the initiative that Seafish is taking in order to promote a healthy diet for UK consumers.

What the heck is a 'seagan' diet?

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While a mutually beneficial diet of seafood and vegetables is recommended as part of most government guidelines, it painfully reminds me of the competition we face from the growing plant-based protein sector.

Many associate me as a sustainable seafood advocate, but the reality is I am a full-fledged seafood geek who happens to believe we have the healthiest protein source on the planet that has the ability to solve many food security issues troubling our growing population.

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Sustainability is not just about the environment - it’s how we impact the social side of sustainability and how we make our business profitabile in an ethical manner. Quite frankly, seafood, although a fragmented industry, is one of the best options as a food source for the future. That is why I am frustrated (No, actually annoyed) we align ourselves with plant-based protein. This, to me, is another threat to our industry, and the potential messaging threatens our ability to create a demand for our product.

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The upcoming seafood exhibitions (Boston, Brussels, China) are fantastic examples of the options we have as an industry to positively promote our product. However, we continue to send mixed messages within our industry and to potential customers by allowing plant-based seafood alternatives to exhibit at these shows. Why are we allowing vegetables dressed up to mimic tuna or crab in our industry?

There is no denying that plant based protein alternatives are one of the fastest growing segments within the food industry and we as an industry need to be aware of them. But these types of products need to be showcased at places like Natural Products Expo versus a seafood exhibition where we should be highlighting why we have the tastiest, healthiest protein in the world.

Just as you won’t find margarine at a dairy convention -- we as an industry need to be proud of the seafood products we are marketing and stop making it easy for consumers to find alternative options to our amazing resource. It’s just my opinion, but I’ll live by it.

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