- Plant-based seafood brand Good Catch’s North American operations were acquired by Wicked Kitchen in an all-stock deal. Good Catch’s parent company Gathered Foods is now a shareholder of Wicked Kitchen and gains a seat on Wicked Kitchen’s board. The deal does not include Good Catch’s U.K. brand, which remains under Gathered Foods.
- Both brands were founded by brothers Derek and Chad Sarno, plant-based chefs who have worked with high-end restaurants and retailers. Chad Sarno retains his position as chief culinary officer of both Good Catch and Wicked Kitchen. Wicked Kitchen CEO Pete Speranza takes the helm of Good Catch, which did not have a CEO under Gathered Foods.
- Analysts have said seafood alternatives are an area that is ripe for growth, with relatively low market penetration and high sales potential. Good Catch, which has been in U.S. retailers and on menus since 2019, has been one of the largest brands and primary movers in this space.
With this deal, Wicked Kitchen is reeling in a big one.
Good Catch’s products are available nationwide and include a variety of both shelf-stable and frozen seafood options. The brand has a longstanding partnership with traditional seafood giant Bumble Bee, which uses its sales, distribution and logistics expertise to get Good Catch to consumers. And Good Catch also has a relationship with Long John Silver’s, which did a test run of its Plant-Based Breaded Fish-Free Fillet and Crab-Free Cake in California and Georgia last year. In Canada, Good Catch is sold under the Swell Catch brand.
According to Crunchbase, Good Catch has raised more than $77 million in its lifetime. The company’s fundraising haul has included notable Big Food investors such as Maple Leaf Foods’ Greenleaf Foods and General Mills’ venture capital arm 301 Inc. as well as several celebrities.
Considering the background of both companies, Wicked Kitchen may have been planning to purchase Good Catch for a while. After all, both were the creations of the same chefs. Additionally, Wicked Kitchen CEO Speranza co-founded General Mills’ 301 Inc., and served as the VC arm’s business development leader at the time of its investment in Good Catch. According to his LinkedIn profile, Speranza served on Good Catch’s board from January 2020 — when 301 Inc. invested in the company — until he left General Mills in September that year.
While Gathered Foods started with the CPG brand Good Catch, it has focused more on developing and supporting the alternative protein segment. Last year, it opened Cultivated Food Labs in Canada, which specializes in plant-based products development with labs, a pilot plant and high moisture extrusion capabilities. The company has its own proprietary plant-based protein library, known as Gathered Proteins. There is its 42,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in Ohio, known as Trellis Manufacturing, which opened in 2020 to make Good Catch products. And it has a large headquarters and culinary lab in Austin, Texas, with space for R&D and content creation.
“Gathered Foods is a leading pioneer in plant-based proteins,” Gathered Foods Executive Chair Chris Kerr said in a written statement. “Wicked’s greatest strength is consumer reach, branding, and most importantly, culinary delight. Together, this is an outstanding path forward allowing both companies to bring their greatest strengths to the consumer market.”
With this deal, Wicked Kitchen will be able to add Good Catch products to its plant-based frozen and shelf-stable meal options, though Good Catch will retain its branding.
“By folding Good Catch’s plant-based seafood offerings into Wicked Kitchen’s North American footprint we will have the largest variety of animal-free consumer packaged goods in the industry available at more than 30,000 distribution points,” Speranza said in a written statement. “The two brands’ product lines complement each other and are 100% accretive, and the breadth of products across departments — from appetizers to desserts and everything in between — allows us to provide great-tasting food that appeals to everyone.”
The deal is the latest in a string of expansions for Wicked Foods, which started at U.K. grocer Tesco in 2018 and came to the United States last year. Last month, the company launched frozen pizzas and meals. Wicked Kitchen also brought lupini bean-based ice cream pints and novelties to grocers’ freezers this spring.