In March, European supermarket shelves will have to make space for a new Japanese entry in the increasingly big market for plant-based alternatives to sea-food and meat.
A leading Japanese food manufacturer has developed plant-based alternative seafood in anticipation of a shortage of marine resources that could trigger a global food crisis.
NH Foods, known as Nippon Ham, spent a year developing fish fries and popcorn shrimp from soybeans and other plant-based material and other vegetable ingredients.
The firm uses seaweed extracts to add a fishy flavour and carefully recreated soft textures. It plans to start selling the foods in March.
The company ventured into alternative seafood after successfully developing hams and sausages using plant-based meat substitutes.
A survey by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization shows that annual seafood consumption per person increased eight-fold in China, and about four-fold in Indonesia, over the half century through till 2019.
Population growth and development in emerging economies have led to surging demand for marine resources, which are already dwindling and could be depleted in the future.
Maeda Fumio, NH Foods' General Manager of Processed Foods Business Division, says the company aims to expand the possibilities of protein, and develop various products in the form of ingredients and pre-cooked foods.
In 2021, Japan’s food-tech venture company Next Meats introduced several alternative meat and fish products such as Next yakiniku and gyudon beef bowls and tuna fish with 100 percent plant-based ingredients.
Next says its products are 100% plant-based, low fat, and zero cholesterol, but high in protein. Additionally, some of them can be stored for up to two years.