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Wicked Kitchen goes fishing with acquisition of Current Foods

May 25, 2023

Wicked Kitchen, a 100% plant-based, flavor-forward global food brand, has acquired Current Foods, an alt-protein startup that provides plant-based seafood to food-service and fine dining locations in the USA and Europe.

Current Foods is the second acquisition by Wicked Kitchen within a year in a move that CEO, Pete Speranza, says is accretive to Wicked Kitchen's portfolio, focuses on an exciting growth segment, and is reflective of the plant-based industry's need for consolidation.

Late last year, Wicked Kitchen acquired Good Catch, a plant-based seafood CPG brand, extending the company's multi-category retail strategy into the alternative seafood market.

"Current Foods is a perfect match for Wicked as a global-impact brand with the same mission and complementary products," Speranza said. "With this deal and the Good Catch acquisition, we're uniquely positioned as consumers continually learn about the environmental impact realities on sea life."

Speranza says the merger brings Wicked Kitchen new global opportunities, channels and consumers. "We're able to put the Current Foods brand in the best possible spot to thrive and as a versatile multi-category brand, Wicked Kitchen is the home to do that."

Wicked Kitchen offers the largest variety of chef-crafted, animal-free consumer packaged goods in the industry available at 90,000 distribution points with more than 40 products in the USA and +150 products in the UK. The brand's multi-category plant-based retail offerings include an expansive frozen and ambient product lineup such as heat-and-eat entreés, handcrafted frozen pizzas and first-of-its kind ice creams and novelties.

The all-stock transaction bolsters Wicked Kitchen's food-service capabilities with plant-based sushi grade tuna and salmon. Wicked Kitchen launched into food-service last year with concessions in sports and entertainment arenas in the USA and this year, into Booker Wholesale, the UK's leading food-service provider.

"Wicked's commitment to impact and to defining the future of the plant-based market makes them the right home for Current Foods' high-quality products that combine superior technology and unbeatable flavor to create a vegan sushi-grade alternative to fish," commented David Barber, Partner at Astanor Ventures, the largest investor at Current Foods that has supported the company since 2020.

Bringing Current Foods' products into the Wicked Kitchen brand family aligns with Wicked Kitchen's ongoing goal to disrupt and innovate within the industry.

"Wicked continues on our mission to disrupt the food space with plant-based culinary-forward solutions for consumers," said Chad Sarno, Co-founder and Wicked Kitchen chief culinary officer. "This synergistic opportunity to bring Current into the family, only amplifies the impact we can have as we continue to push forward in improving ocean health and all that call it home."

Additionally, the acquisition signals a proactive strategy in the plant-based industry for continued growth in a competitive market, notes Speranza, an industry leader who co-led General Mills 301 INC venture fund investing more than US$100 million in emerging food brands. He has been an early predictor of the need for consolidation of plant-based brands to strengthen the industry.

"There's only so much shelf space and we're all fighting for volume," said Speranza. "The industry needs transformation to sustain innovation and competitive advantage. Wicked is ahead of the curve."

Current Foods launched in 2019 and then in 2021 gained distribution with food-service partners like Chef Guy Vaknin's City Roots Hospitality in New York City and Blue Sushi Sake Grill. The company has a nationwide roster of restaurants and services universities and prepared foods to retail. The company was named as one of TIME magazine's 2021's Best Inventions, recognized by Fast Company as a World Changing Idea of 2022, and was one of eight products to win the FABI award for the 2023 National Restaurant Association show that concluded last weekend in Chicago.

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