Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Nippon Ham Sees Demand From Hotels & Restaurants After Launching Plant-Based Tuna Sashimi

In January, Japanese meat producer Nippon Ham announced it was developing plant-based tuna sashimi. The product has now launched, and the company reports that it is already seeing interest from hotels and restaurants.

Nippon Ham told news outlet nippon.com that if demand continues to rise, it will increase production of the sashimi. The seafood alternative keeps for up to a year when frozen, making it attractive to food service providers. It was also reported in January that the product would be cheaper than conventional tuna.

Nippon Ham said that developing the plant-based sashimi had been very challenging, particularly with regard to achieving a texture that is not too firm but will not fall apart. The primary ingredient is konjac, a starchy Asian plant, combined with other ingredients such as fiber and yeast. The seafood alternative is said to replicate the taste and mouthfeel of tuna, and is compatible with soy sauce and wasabi.

© Nippon Ham

“Unconventional ideas”

The new product is intended to provide a sustainable alternative to seafood, as the oceans become increasingly overfished. Nippon Ham first entered the plant-based seafood market in 2023 with two retail productsfish fries and popcorn shrimp. The products were launched following a year of R&D, and are made using ingredients such as soy protein and seaweed extracts.

On its website, Nippon Ham acknowledges that protein supplies are under increasing pressure, meaning that “unconventional ideas” are needed to meet demand.

“As diets become more diverse, there is a growing need for a wider selection of protein sources,” says the company. “We have been developing products using soy, an ingredient that is rich in protein, sometimes referred to as ‘field-grown meat’. In addition to products for sale in Japan, we also export products overseas where there is a high demand for plant-based products.”

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