Ocean Hugger Foods is yet another casualty of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic that has spread from China to wreak economic havoc, disease and death worldwide since late last year. As of June 29, 2020 the contagion has infected at least 10,143,794 people and killed 502,551 people across the planet.
In a joint statement to clients, distributors and consumers last week, Ocean Hugger Foods Co-founders David Benzaquen and James Corwell commented: “Our hearts are with you during these difficult times. Due to the Covid-19 health crisis our world is facing, and the fact that our company sells exclusively to foodservice customers (such as university and corporate cafeterias, and restaurants) who are suffering greatly during this time, it is with tremendous sadness that we must cease operations.”
Founded in 2015, the New York City-headquartered company was the first producer to actively market plant-based alternatives to raw tuna and freshwater eel. Its Ahimi offering (Ahi is the Hawaiian word for yellowfin tuna, and mi means spirit in Japanese), made of tomato and few other ingredients, was positioned as a sustainable alternative to tuna fish in making sushi, sashimi, nigiri, maki rolls, poké, tartare, ceviche and other dishes.
Ocean Hugger Foods’ second major product, Unami, is a unique, texture-driven alternative to freshwater eel (unagi) that is made from eggplant, gluten-free soy sauce, mirin, sugar, rice bran oil, algae oil, and konjac powder.
“Over the last four years, we have been honored and privileged to serve our business partners and the general public with groundbreaking and award-winning, plant-based alternatives to some of the most endangered species on our planet. Indeed, we believe that the need for sustainable, ethical, and healthy food offerings has never been more critical, and that the opportunity for businesses addressing this need is extraordinarily promising,” stated CEO Benzaquen and Certified Master Chef Corwell. “While we mourn the loss of our business and so many others to the terrible pandemic facing our communities, we hope that our success as a pioneer in plant-based seafood will inspire new entrepreneurs to take action on behalf of our oceans.”
While Ocean Hugger is not operating regularly anymore, it is open to discuss interest in the company’s assets. Meanwhile, some of its distributors in North America, Europe and Asia still have inventory on hand for purchase by foodservice operators. Contact information is available at: www.oceanhuggerfoods.com.