• Vegan Dashi Proving a Plant-based Umami Success in Japan 



    Customarily made with bonito flakes, “dashi” or soup stock is an essential ingredient of traditional Japanese cuisine. Now, “UMAMI dashi Vegetables” made by Japanese company Futaba Co. Ltd. is winning awards and gaining traction amongst an increasingly health-conscious public in Japan.

    The product is a dashi made of four kinds of vegetables grown in Japan and free from not only animal ingredients but also chemical seasonings or allergic substances. Having been chosen as the best 10 products out of more than 1000 applications in “Food Action Nippon Award 2020”, its recognition is increasing among the public, with more people identifying as flexitarian and health-conscious. 

    Futaba has also introduced “UMAMI Dashi Vegetables for Baby”, which was produced as an ingredient of baby food and does not contain any animal ingredients or chemical seasonings either, meeting the wishes of parents “to enable their kids to experience the good taste of vegetables since they are babies”. Furthermore, it is currently considering the development of a “subscription service of vegan products delivered regularly”, thus you can expect the expansion of its business in the Japanese plant-based market.

    dashi
    image courtesy of freefrom.inc

    Now the vegan business of Futaba is looking at the “foreign market”. As well as emphasizing the vegan aspect of the product more, it aims to reach out to consumers widely through continuing to bring forward its merits for health including less use of salt for flavoring by using dashi. 

    In the OMOTENASHI Selection announced last December – an award where non-Japanese knowledgeable people living in Japan judge great products or services provided in Japan – Futaba dashi packages as a whole got a gold medal. As one non-Japanese mother commented, “I am glad if there is a vegan and allergies-free baby food like this. Although dashi is popular among foreign people to some extent, they have not had a culture to cook with it yet and hence it is not easily used in cooking. We might need to explain how to make use of it to them step by step.”

    dashi
    image courtesy of freefrom.inc
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