Behind the scenes at America’s largest fishing company

I survived Expo West, but many brands don’t. Nor do some buyers, like the ones I heard, get food poisoning, possibly from a brand that exposes. People are selling their hearts out on the floor, and there’s a mix of excitement, opportunity and defeat in the convention center air.

Here are some of my noted observations at Expo West:

  • Natalie’s juice: I profiled them in our magazine in 2019, revealing fresh tomato juice packed with the super-nutrient lycopene. This is a big milestone for the company and its founder Mary Grace Sexton, who told me five years ago on that reporting trip how she had wanted to launch a fresh tomato juice for years because it is a perfect, natural post workout drink.
  • Speaking of tomatoes: I loved seeing the ketchup wars up close! I’ve tried many brands, including the upstart Carbone Fine Foods, the staple Rao’s, and organic and imported varieties such as from Organico Bello.
  • More real meat this year: Bison chili, venison sausages and many meat brands touted regenerative organic certifications. These certifications have a ways to go, but the dynamic has been a big change.
  • Fewer alternative protein brands: Gone are the fancy alt meat years with Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods on the flood. However, there are still new brands of dairy alternatives, including Climax Foods. The alt-meat on display mostly came from branded fake chicken and fake eggs, Omni noodles or matsubi, or the super-engineered varieties from conglomerates like Bunge and Cargill.
  • Flavors I enjoyed: The authentic Japanese barbecue sauce. Califia’s new vegan whipped cream. churn grass-fed butter. Agua bonita drinks; mother-in-law’s cold-fermented kimchi broth.
  • Gotham Greens: They launched dips based on basil and the herbs he grows in greenhouses. That’s more product differentiation where other vertical farm competitors haven’t gone beyond lettuce.

Hard-selling brands – to the buyers, investors and strategic buyers walking the Expo West floor – couldn’t be more opposite than Trident Seafoods and the Bundrant family that owns it. They are the subjects of my latest film, published this morning, which is a rare glimpse into their world, as the Budrands have long lived by the family motto: “A whale is only shot when it is launched.”

Triaina is a white whale of the fishing industry. They landed me some exclusive interviews when I was in Seattle earlier this year, and I’m excited to share their story with you.

I’m now in Austin for an extended South By Southwest weekend, where I’ll be moderating four panels and hosting two book signings. If you’re in town, I’d love to see you at one of my events. Aside from the official SXSW panel earlier this morning, everything is free. See you next week with information, recommendations and a Fresh Take guide to Austin!

—Chloe Sorvino, Staff Writer

Order my book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meatout now from Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books.

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Say Hello to SXSW!

Saturday, March 11

The future of food at SXSW

Panel: Farming The Oceans & Building Sustainable Seafood Systems

3:15 p.m. to 4:00 p.m

Book signing

4:05 p.m. to 5:00 p.m

SXSW Center at 1400 Lavaca Street

Sunday, March 12

All Things Food Summit by Food Tank, in partnership with Huston-Tillotson University

Panel: What is the future of meat?

11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m

King-Seabrook Chapel, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon Street

The Fresh Take Hit List: Los Angeles

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Chloe Sorvino leads food and agriculture coverage as a staff writer in the business group at Forbes. Her book, Raw Deal: Hidden Corruption, Corporate Greed and the Fight for the Future of Meat, published on December 6, 2022, with Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books. Her nearly nine years of reporting for Forbes have taken her to In-N-Out Burger’s secret test kitchen, to drought-stricken farms in California’s Central Valley, to burned national forests logged by a lumber billionaire, to a slaughterhouse in Omaha and even a chocolate croissant factory designed like a medieval castle in northern France.

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