A Promising Start with Plant Futures

This fall semester, Finless Foods partnered with the Plant Futures Initiative and worked with four UC Berkeley students to help envision the future of cell-cultured seafood. Now that the project has wrapped, we wanted to feature some of our Plant Futures team and what this project/work means to them.

The Plant Futures Initiative is “working to accelerate the transition to a plant-centric food system by ensuring students become ethical leaders, systems thinkers and effective advocates for a plant-centric future.” It is a global movement at the intersection of public health, social justice, climate justice, and animal welfare and is helping to build this system in part by partnering students with innovative companies for semester-long projects.

At the end of the semester, the team shared an insightful presentation of industry research and communication strategies to propel our cell-cultured products forward into the market. 

Working with our Plant Futures team was an inspiring and eye-opening experience to see the endless potential in what passionate, change-driven individuals can accomplish when we come together. Please meet some of the team:

Ashley Yip

B.S. in Environmental Science with a minor in Data Science at UC Berkeley, class of 2023 

What drew you to Plant Futures and what does the mission mean to you? 

I have always been interested in a career in sustainability… having grown up in food-haven Singapore, I wanted to learn more about sustainable food systems. Plant Futures represents a future in food systems that can have a significant and positive impact on sustainability, and there are so many exciting innovations happening in the space! It is just inspiring to be around others who are passionate about the issue at hand as well.

What challenges and issues are you hoping to address by joining Plant Futures? 

I hope to be able to understand the growth opportunities, threats, and future of alternative protein products. This is a space that is quickly growing in Asia as well, and better understanding the innovations that root themselves in the US’s invigorating R&D space, the hope is to integrate these best practices in the space into Asia.

What are you hoping to see more of in the future in the plant-based and cell-cultured space? 

In terms of scalability, I hope that it becomes more normalized as an affordable, daily option for food. I hope it is scaled past the United States to find space in the market within Asia in a culturally-appropriate manner, while also tackling rampant food insecurity.

How does seafood fit into your life? 

I am from Singapore – and seafood, while common to eat – is often seen as a larger expense… but because it is most common in sharing plates, it represents reunion and family as well. Therefore, to me, seafood is a symbol for family reunions.

Remi Tateishi

B.A. in Media Studies with a minor in Japanese Language and Literature at UC Berkeley, class of 2022

What drew you to Plant Futures and what does the mission mean to you? 

I decided to take the Plant Futures Challenge Lab course for a few reasons. First, food is my passion, and I hope to enter a career in the food and beverage industry. My passion for food has always been nourishment for my soul. I believe that the elegance of a simple meal, carefully prepared, using ingredients that are fresh, local, and sustainable is an important component of my life.

What challenges and issues are you hoping to address by joining Plant Futures? 

I am deeply concerned about pressing issues such as climate change, dwindling biodiversity, and the detrimental effects of industrially raised cattle that harm our earth. I hope to somehow contribute to increasing public awareness of such issues through work with plant-based food companies.

What are you hoping to see more of in the future in the plant-based and cell-cultured space? 

I’m hoping to see more alternative meat and seafood products that are catered toward the Asian palate. The majority of alternative meat and seafood products widely available in the US seem to be catered toward the Western palate. I also think that Asian alternative meat and seafood products would be a great gateway into the countries in Asia where the vegan movement has not gained much traction.

How does seafood fit into your life? 

I come from a culture where seafood is an essential part of the diet. In Japan, fish has been the main source of animal protein for centuries as it is the fastest and most readily available food source. However, I recognize that many species of fish such as tuna are unsustainable. The rising demand for tuna in Japan and across the globe has placed growing strain/pressure on our finite global fisheries. I strongly believe in Finless Foods’ mission, and I’m honored to work with them to explore plant-based and cell-cultured seafood products!

It was an absolute delight working with the students from UC Berkeley and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish next!

Finless in the Wild: Work, Play, and Everything in Between

The Finless team has had a very busy summer and fall season this year. Ready to see what we’ve been up to?

California Coastal Cleanup Day on Sep 14th – In honor of California’s 38th annual Coastal Cleanup Day in September, we coordinated an event of over 30 Finless staff members at Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park – a site and partnership that was recommended by Finless’ Impact Advisory Board member, Michael Sutton.  This park is located near the Finless Foods HQ and the port in San Leandro Bay, which serves as the entry point for our supply chain. 

Together, we removed trash and invasive plants from the coastline and went on a guided bird walk where we saw local great blue Herons. Finless made a donation of $5,000 to support the activities of the Golden Gate Audubon Society – as a thank you for their day-to-day hard work to preserve this beautiful oasis in our backyard. We look forward to continuing our support of coastal communities, access to the outdoors, and habitat protection projects.

Finless Team Building Day on Sep 15th – At Finless, we love finding creative ways to celebrate our staff. So, we headed out to beautiful Lake Chabot, where our team participated in many fun team-building exercises and enjoyed the great outdoors. It was an absolute joy and we are already looking forward to our next adventure together!

Marine Sanctuaries Event on Sep 18th – We partnered with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society for a celebratory event at the New York Aquarium. Finless was one of many leading conservation and ocean protection organizations in attendance to honor the designation of the Hudson Canyon as the newest National Marine Sanctuary. This was extra special to us, as the Hudson Canyon is an important ecosystem for the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Contributing to habitat protection for key species like the bluefin tuna is an important component of Finless’ mission to create a future where our ocean thrives. 

Climate Week Dinner on Sep 21st –  Over 100 climate activists, journalists, sustainability professionals, and community members gathered at The Gallery stage at NeueHouse in New York City to discuss sustainability and community resilience through the lenses of regenerative travel and reimagining a regenerative blue economy. 

According to panelist Shannon Cosentino-Roush, Chief Strategy Officer at Finless Foods, building coalitions and sharing best practices are crucial to creating the momentum necessary to scale innovation, shake up entire industries, and affect meaningful change for our ocean and planet. 

Plant Based World Expo on Sep 8th-9th – Our Policy and Impact Manager, Lauren Latchford, represented Finless Foods at our booth at the Plant Based World Expo in New York. Amongst the showcasing of our plant-based tuna by our sales team, an incredibly diverse array of plant-based products made an appearance, ranging from burgers and nuggets to protein powders and chocolate bars. This was a key event as chefs, restaurateurs, and government agencies from around the world were in attendance to learn how they can best serve their communities with sustainable and plant-based food solutions. We were honored to have attended as a nominee of the World Plant Based Awards for Best Plant-Based Seafood, and look forward to coming back next year with more to offer. 

We have many more exciting events planned and we can’t wait to share them with you. Be sure to follow us on social media @finlessfoods for updates!