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Why this Oprah-endorsed US seafood company now offers plant-based crab and shrimp

Van Cleve Seafood owner says consumers want a balance between seafood and plant alternatives.

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Virginia-based Van Cleve Seafood--rather than shunning plant-based alternatives--has developed a line that incorporates both real seafood and alternative protein options.

"I don't think it's ever worked out for anybody to resist a movement or trend," you need to get on board with it," Monica Van Cleve-Talbert, co-owner of Van Cleve Seafood, told IntraFish of the company's new superfood line of products called "Wild.Skinny.Clean." "People are moving toward plant-based, but they don't want to completely cut out meat, they want a balance."

The new line of meal-kit-style frozen products, includes wild-caught haddock from Maine that includes a "super-food topped" coating, as well as plant-based crab and pink shrimp that uses soy- and corn-free ingredients.

The company still sells items with real crab and shrimp in them, but Van Cleve-Talbert said the move to plant-based options for those species was a response specifically to overfishing concerns.

It still sources crab meat from sustainable fisheries--domestic and foreign--from the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Venezuela, depending on the season and supply, she said. It sources shrimp from North Carolina.

"Wild.Skinny.Clean. is a new line that only sources seafood from American and sustainable fisheries," she said. "Our plant-based crab cakes and shrimp are meant to give the wild caught crab and shrimp species a break, easing the harvest a bit to ensure the stocks stay healthy. We recognize that most people eating plant-based aren't all vegans, they're just looking for balance. That's what we offer."

The company does not use any farm-raised seafood, she added, noting consumers still find aquaculture confusing and have distrust for it.

The company's plant-based "crab-less cake" will start selling online on Oct. 21 for $84.00 (€76.32), and includes 12 three-ounce cakes. It's unique mix of ingredients includes artichoke, hearts of palm, quinoa flour, organic honey, cabbage, green onion, and kelp, according to the company's website.

The shrimp retails on the company's website online for $9.99 (€9.08) for 17 pieces, and its ingredients include konjac powder, vegetable gum, vegetable root starch, paprika, brown sugar, sea salt, and plant-based vegan seasoning.

Seafood as a 'healing' food

Van Cleve-Talbert and her sister created the product line following a trip to Costa Rica as part of a yoga and surf retreat.

"When you go to a spa, you eat healthy, light, vibrant food," she said. "We resisted at first, but after three or four days, we never felt better in our lives. It's what pushed us to create this brand. We wanted consumers to feel just as good as we felt eating that."

All of the products in the new line are frozen and are being sold through the company's website. The company is planning to have the new line hits stores in January, but can't say yet which stores will be offering the products.

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