Impossible Foods, the California company behind the meatless Impossible Whopper now available at Burger King, is focusing on developing alternatives to traditional seafood with plant-based recipes or laboratory techniques that allow scientists to grow fish from cells.

Thus far, the company has focused on the biochemistry of fish flavor.  Last month, Impossible Foods’ 124-person research and development team, which the company plans to increase to around 200 by the end of next year, produced an anchovy-flavored broth made from plants.

The fishless-fish project is part of Impossible Foods grand ambition to devise tasty replacements for every animal-based food on the market by 2035.  It is unclear whether consumers, even those who east meatless burgers, will embrace fish alternatives.  Those faux-beef products owe their success partly to the enthusiasm of so-called flexitarians, people who want to reduce their meat consumption without fully converting to vegetarianism.  However, flexitarians are not necessarily motivated by a desire to save the planet.  Industry experts say many of them are drawn to plant-based meat more for its perceived health benefits than for its role in reducing the food industry’s reliance on production techniques that release greenhouse gases.

“A lot of people will simply say if you eat meat, you are increasing your risk of cancer,” said Tom Rees, who studies the packaged food industry for the market research firm Euromonitor International.  “There is not an equivalent of that for fish,” he said

Proponents of plant-based fish describe the project as an environmental imperative.  While billions of people across the world depend on seafood as their main source of protein, the world’s marine fish stocks are 90 percent depleted, primarily because of overfishing, according to the World Economic Forum.  However, Leigh Habegger executive director for the Seafood Harvesters of America, said that American fishing companies have made great strides in improving the sustainability of the industry.