Founder’s Story

 

On my last big holiday several years ago, I had the intense privilege to scuba-dive with a giant whaleshark in the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. It was a childhood dream come true. I felt so humbled and lucky to be in the presence of this amazing creature.

My whaleshark encounter was an almost spiritual experience that irrevocably changed my perspective on the Ocean – both professionally and as a father of 3 young children. It sparked my desire to turn my knowledge of seafood and the ocean into positive action.

From my mom’s kitchen in the picturesque region of ‘Zeeland’ (The Netherlands) I was raised with an undying curiosity and passion for food. Where the Ocean meets Land, is where you can find the most inspiring ingredients, chefs and restaurateurs. This holds true around the world, as I later discovered.

My passion for food led me from my first job, aged 13 as a kitchen cadet, to a culinary education and managing food and beverage operations at some of the finest hotels and restaurants on different continents. Returning to my roots to become a father, I recognized that selling food was as much of a passion, as making and serving it.  Seafood and vegetables became my 2 favorite supply chains, as I embarked on a journey as a trader in the global food industry.

As a connector in the seafood industry, I visited many commercial seafood markets around the world. In 2009 I went to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo for the first time, and I have been back there several times since. The first time I felt like ‘a kid in a candy store’. The variety and quality on display were simply mindboggling! Back then the market was still fully open to foreigners, and I saw huge tuna the size of cars. I took hundreds of photos and the smells, sounds and flavors of early morning sushi are forever etched in my memory.

On my last visit to Tsukiji in 2019, it was already notoriously hard to get in. Cameras were no longer allowed. The variety had gotten a lot smaller and the impressive tuna I had seen only a decade earlier, had been reduced to no more than the size of a coffee table. It was a clear sign of what I had suspected for some time, but what the industry I had grown fond of, seemed to have collectively forgotten in pursuit of more business…

There is a quote that goes; “Once you know some things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can never be given away.” This was my feeling when I learned more and more about the state of our oceans, from which point I gradually started to withdraw from the seafood industry to focus more on vegetables, food ingredients and plant-based proteins.

While there is no denying the fact that mankind has already overstepped its boundaries from what we take from the Ocean, I have to say I also witnessed tremendous positive developments in the seafood industry; from land-based aquaculture farms to seaweed cultivation, protecting fragile marine ecosystems and capturing carbon in the process. It’s certainly not all doom & gloom!

I believe the world needs great tasting alternatives to seafood. Not only for fish-lovers, but for flexitarians and vegans alike. To further alleviate the pressure on Mother Ocean, but without sacrificing on the taste and enjoyment we know from fish. With today’s knowledge this is possible! We live in an exciting era of endless new developments in the food industry.

My team and I have created a range of products which are fully plant-based and made in harmony with the ocean and the planet. Along with the products you can find on our website, we have a host of other products under development that truly fit our mission: helping people enjoy great tasting seafood alternatives.

We have an amazing opportunity to turn our diets into a force for good. Please think about how lucky you are and what you will tell the next generations about the Ocean.

Thijs
Head of the Tribe