The market for meat substitutes made with soybeans and other vegetable proteins is attracting attention as more people eat in during the pandemic.
The attention has grow in line with the recent increase in offerings in the market, including hamburger steak and deep-fried meat.
Food makers want to seize the opportunity to expand the market for meat substitutes at a time when people are increasingly health-conscious yet cooking at home more often to avoid the coronavirus, industry sources said.
Some of the products that began drawing interest around last year are made by processing defatted soybeans at elevated temperatures and pressures before adding water and seasoning. This creates products that are low in fat, rich in fiber and taste and feel like real meat, the sources said.
In March, major domestic meat producer NH Foods Ltd. launched five products, including sausages made from soybeans, konnyaku (devil’s tongue) and keema curry, jumping into the household market for meat substitutes.
“We want to meet demand from people seeking dietary diversity,” a company official said.
In May, major fast food chain Mos Food Services Inc. started selling the Green Burger, a sandwich made chiefly from vegetables and grains and without dairy or other animal products.
Otsuka Foods Co. has released four products, including “hamburger steak” that can be cooked in a microwave.
Major miso maker Marukome Co. sells dried minced soybeans that can substitute for minced meat.
Demand for meat substitutes is increasing amid growing awareness of the environmental impact of meat production.
At the same time, demand for take-out food is also growing as a result of lifestyle changes brought on by the coronavirus.
“An increasing number of people are reviewing their lifestyles,” an official at Mos Food said.
Japan’s market for plant-based meat substitutes is projected to grow to ¥34.6 billion this year and ¥78 billion in 2030, according to research firm Seed Planning Inc.
“Soybeans, used in such products as natto (fermented soybeans) and tofu, are an ingredient quite familiar in Japanese food,” said an official at Fuji Oil Co., which has supplied soy meat to companies for many years.
Meat substitutes can attract demand from a wide range of people, the official added, expressing hope for further growth.
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