Japan sluggish in adopting plant-based protein alternatives – Japanese CEO

Based on his and his team’s experience, the Japanese market is “far behind” in adopting plant-based proteins and it is difficult to advocate for them.

“Compared to ‘meat-heavy’ countries, it is difficult to advocate to the Japanese consumer. We face problems when promoting our products. That’s why we want to use of this opportunity to approach them,”​ said Hiroto.

Two major consumer categories could be tapped in Japan – one group acknowledges the presence of plant-based meat but is reluctant to make the purchase, whereas another group comprises consumers with egg allergy.

The latter is the priority target for UMAMI because egg allergy is common in the country. According to Hiroto, 40% of allergen sufferers cannot consume eggs, and 10% of children have egg allergies.

“We want to cooperate with baby food makers and catering services that have been looking for egg substitutes. We tested our product on kindergarten children, and they liked it. I want to provide the solutions for these issues,”he said.

Cracking the recipe

UMAMI United produces plant-based eggs using the umami flavor component from the wood ear mushroom sourced from west Japan. This type of mushroom was used as it became popular to be cultivated and suitable for solar sharing. The fungus has a characteristic texture and does not have a strong taste.

Enzymes are added to extract the umami, which is later mixed with konjac powder. Other ingredients include gelling agents for texture stability, nigari (bittern) for ‘elasticity’, and natural-safe coloring derived from carrots, oranges and pumpkin.


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