A collage of the brands that have partnered with Spiber

© Spiber Inc.

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Spiber Raises Over JPY10 Billion for Mass Production of Fermented Proteins for Materials

Spiber Inc., a Japanese biotech “brewing” sustainable materials for the fashion, automotive, and personal care industry, announces it has raised over JPY10 billion (around $65M) in equity financing. Spiber has raised a total funding of $489 million over 9 rounds. The funding, which included additional investments from existing shareholders, will allow the company to accelerate mass production of its innovative Brewed Protein materials and facilitate global sales.  Founded in 2007, Spiber uses precision fermentation and polymer and material science to develop protein-based alternatives to animal and petrochemical materials. Its polymers can be used to make spider silk, wool, cashmere, leather, fur, and more. The company already operates biomanufacturing plants in Thailand and is building another in Iowa, USA. Kazuhide Sekiyama, Director and Representative Executive Officer …

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© Blue DIamond Growers

Milk- and Dairy Alternatives

Kagome Takes Over Blue Diamond Almond Breeze in Japan, Will Launch New Products in September

Blue Diamond Growers, which claims to be the world’s largest almond marketer and processor, has announced that Kagome Co Ltd, known as a manufacturer and distributor of tomato-based foods, and fruit and vegetable juices, will now operate all production and distribution in Japan. Blue Diamond intends to utilize Kagome’s market knowledge to increase sales and consumption of Almond Breeze in Japan. The new partnership will focus on accelerating market growth and increasing demand for Almond Breeze, and additionally, new products will also be launched through Kagome in September of this year. Almond’s popularity in Japan The almond milk category in Japan continues to see year-on-year growth and almond is one of the most preferred plant milk in the country after soy. “The growth of the …

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Eclipse Foods bonbons

© Eclipse Foods

Products & Launches

Eclipse Foods Launches Plant-Based Ice Cream Bonbons in US, “eclipseco” Debuts in Japan

Plant-based ice cream brand Eclipse Foods has announced the launch of a new product line, Eclipse Bonbons. This new addition to its portfolio introduces a series of non-dairy ice cream bonbons, developed by an award-winning chef to mimic the creamy texture and rich flavors traditionally associated with dairy-based ice cream. These bonbons combine ultra-creamy non-dairy ice cream with a velvety chocolate shell and a variety of crunchy toppings, designed to provide a luxurious taste experience. The launch will feature three flavors: Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle, Peanut Butter Pretzel, and Coffee Almond Crunch, which are scheduled for release in March 2024 in select US grocery stores. Thomas Bowman, the co-founder and CTO of Eclipse Foods, commented on the company’s dedication to producing plant-based alternatives that replicate the …

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Azuma Foods has launched a new plant-based fish lineup --- Just Like Fish Series.

© Azuma Foods

Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Azuma Foods Launches Plant-Based Seafood Range “Future Fish” in Japan

Azuma Foods, a Japanese food manufacturer with over 50 years of experience creating innovative Japanese cuisine, has launched a new plant-based seafood lineup, Future Fish, under its brand Green Surf. The new range comprising tuna, salmon, and squid aims to offer alternatives made without animal ingredients to lessen the strain on marine resources caused by fishing while helping consumers reduce their seafood consumption, says the Japanese food manufacturer. The Azuma Foods R&D team crafted the new plant-based fish alternatives using konjac (a starchy root vegetable) flour, salt, locust bean gum (seeds from the carob tree), and trehalose (a type of sugar) to mimic the authentic taste and texture of real fish. The fishless products come refrigerated and sliced. They can be used in multiple recipes, including sashimi, marinated fish …

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New report shows 42% of Japanese consumers would try cultivated meat,

© APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture (APAC-SCA)

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

New Report Finds 42% of Japanese Consumers Would Try Cultivated Meat, While 58% Are Not Familiar with Cell-Based Foods

APAC Society for Cellular Agriculture (APAC-SCA) has released a new report revealing that 42% of Japanese consumers are open to trying cultivated meat or seafood products, “as long as they have been proven safe.”  The report Prospect of Cultivated Meat & Seafood in Japan was commissioned by APAC-SCA and analyzed by Akira Igata, Project Lecturer at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo and Director of the Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture (JACA). The researchers surveyed 1,000 Japanese consumers in May 2023, aiming to gain insights into their perceptions and behavioral trends related to cultivated meat and seafood.  A strong emphasis on safety The findings show that 44% of respondents considered the presence of Japanese government regulations as the most important factor …

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California Cultured

© California Cultured

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

California Cultured Signs 10-Year Agreement for Cell-Cultured Cocoa with Japan’s Largest Chocolate Company

California Cultured, a West Sacramento-based startup specializing in plant cell culture, has announced a partnership with Meiji Ltd. Co., Japan’s largest chocolate company. This collaboration involves the integration of California Cultured’s cell-cultured cocoa products into Meiji’s lineup of packaged goods. Part of the co-branded collaboration includes a 10-year commercial agreement positioning California Cultured as the supplier of its “Flavanol Cocoa Powder” to Meiji. California Cultured uses cellular agriculture to create cultured chocolate and coffee, addressing several critical issues associated with the chocolate industry, such as deforestation and biodiversity loss. The company gained financial backing from CULT Food Science Corp in 2022, which has furthered its mission by diversifying CULT’s cell-based food portfolio and aiding the advancement and commercialization of California Cultured’s products. Alan Perlstein, founder …

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Megumi Avigail Yoshitomi

Megumi Avigail Yoshitomi © JACA

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture: “Working to Achieve the Sale of Cultivated Meat in Japan from 2026”

Megumi Avigail Yoshitomi is the Representative Director of the Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture (JACA) and sits on an advisory board for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s strategy to promote the biotechnology industry in Japan. Megumi was recognised by the Forbes Japan 30 Under 30 list in 2020 for her work in the field. The group works with a focus on policy-making in order to bring food products produced by cellular agriculture technology to the Japanese market. Please can you briefly introduce your organization? Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture (JACA) is a non-profit policy think tank based in Japan, focusing on policy-making to promote regulatory framework building and international collaborations around cellular agriculture. JACA communicates with ministries, politicians, existing meat industry players, consumer …

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© YUMGO

Egg Alternatives

YUMGO Egg Alternatives Launch in Japan in Partnership With Leading Delicatessen Distributor

Egg alternatives made by France’s YUMGO are now available in Japan after the company partnered with Nichifutsu Boeki K.K, a leading Japanese distributor in the delicatessen market. YUMGO was founded in 2019 by Anne Vincent and Rodolphe Landemaine; the latter is a pastry chef and the founder of plant-based bakery chain Land & Monkeys, which has several locations across Paris. The company aims to provide a comprehensive range of egg replacement solutions for food service professionals. Currently, YUMGO offers powdered and liquid egg alternatives, with both available in three varieties — Whole, White, and Yolk. The products help to give plant-based products the color and functional properties traditionally provided by eggs. Ambassador chefs YUMGO has received more than ten awards and has over 200 professional …

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Cultivated eel dishes created by the vegan restaurant Saido.

© Anatoly Michaello

Cultivated Seafood

Forsea Develops World’s First Cultivated Eel Fillet, Plans Commercial Launch in 2025

Forsea Foods, a cultivated seafood startup from Israel, has unveiled what it claims is the world’s first cultivated eel prototype. According to the startup, the cultivated eel delivers the delicate texture and flavorful taste of the Japanese unagi eel (Anguilla japonica), renowned for its tenderness and rich flavor. To demonstrate the potential of its new development, Forsea worked with chef Katsumi Kusumoto of Saido, a popular vegan restaurant in Tokyo, to craft two traditional Japanese dishes — unagi kabayaki (marinated grilled eel over rice) and unagi nigiri. Since tastings of cultivated meat are not yet legally allowed in Japan, the prototype has not been served or tasted at Saido restaurant as yet, verifies the company. The Forsea and Saido teams met a few times in Japan and …

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NH Foods from Japan will introduce a plant-based tuna sashimi.

© bbivirys - stock.adobe.com

Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Nippon Ham to Introduce Plant-Based Tuna Sashimi for Food Service in Japan

NH Foods, a Japanese ham manufacturer known in the country as Nippon Ham, is developing a plant-based tuna sashimi for food service. The Japanese firm is marketing and promoting its plant-based tuna sashimi as a reliable and environmentally friendly protein source in the face of potential strain on fishery resources. Last spring, the company expanded into the alt seafood category with two plant-based seafood products — fish fries and popcorn shrimp — also highlighting the sustainability of the new alternatives. However, instead of focusing on retail, the company will launch the new plant-based tuna sashimi exclusively for restaurants this April to learn about consumer preferences and the market. Nippon Ham’s new plant-based tuna sashimi is made from plant-derived ingredients, including konjac flour, dietary fiber, and …

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Swiss firm planetary SA has partnered with the Japanese giant in imaging technology, Konica Minolta Inc., to optimize and reduce the production costs of its fermentation technologies.

© Image courtesy of Planetary

Fermentation

Swiss Biotech Planetary and Japan’s Konica Minolta Partner to Cut Costs of Fermented Proteins

Swiss firm planetary SA (Planetary), the world’s first integrated biomass and precision fermentation CDMO, has partnered with the Japanese giant in imaging technology, Konica Minolta Inc. to optimize and reduce the production costs of its fermentation technologies. The ultimate aim is to accelerate the production of fermented proteins, including dairy, egg, fats, and mycoproteins, that can compete with the prices of similar commodity products in the market. The newly announced collaboration, following the signing of an MoU, involves using Konica Minolta’s advanced image-sensing tech and data-driven bioprocess to develop and implement new real-time monitoring and control operations. In addition, by leveraging the collected data and AI, the technologies can be further optimized. As a result, the companies expect to decrease the number of lost batches and achieve a further reduction …

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Cultivated chicken on a small grill. Japan's government is making changes and transferring powers to different organizations to shift toward a more flexible approach to the novel food sector-

Cultivated chicken © Diverse Farm

Politics & Law

New Changes in Japan’s Approach to Cultivated Meat Regulation and Safety, PM Kishida to Play Key Role

The Japanese government is making changes and transferring powers to different organizations to shift toward a more flexible approach to the novel food sector, including cultivated meat, announces the Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture (JACA). As explained by the organization, the responsibilities for novel foods are carried by two separate bodies: the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW), which focuses on risk management and food hygiene, and the Food Safety Commission (FSC), which handles risk assessment.  While no specific laws exist to approve or ban the sale of cultivated meat in Japan, the MHLW currently holds authority over cultivated meat, providing legal clarity regarding the sale, manufacturing, and import procedures. However, when issuing official statements to the public regarding the safety of cultivated food, the MHLW …

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Umami United

© Umami United

Investments & Finance

Japanese Government Backs Alt Protein Innovators with Millions for Plant-Based Eggs and Cultivated Meat

The Japanese government has awarded $27.7 million in funding to two alternative protein startups: Umami United, a producer of plant-based eggs, and IntegriCulture, a cultivated meat biotechnology company, to support the nation’s economy and enhance food security. The Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Innovation Promotion Fund Project organized by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries selected the startups. Since 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture has established a plan to diversify protein sources, labeling alternative proteins an important sector, which includes cultivated meat. Japan ranks as the second-largest market size for meat alternatives, valued at USD 247.5 million, according to the latest Food Frontier report on alternative proteins in Asia. However, its projected growth rate of 9% (CAGR 2022–27) is relatively low. This slower growth is driven by …

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A worker at a tofu production line

© Yamami Co.

Manufacturing & Technology

Yamami Co. is Revolutionizing Traditional Tofu Making with Automation Technologies

Yamami Co., a Japanese soybean specialist, has set new industry benchmarks with its capability to produce 15,000 units of tofu per hour, reports Bloomberg. Yamami manufactures all kinds of tofu, including deep-fried, baked, silk, and okara (a bean curd).  Tofu, an everyday food staple in Japanese gastronomy, is appreciated for its accessible prices. It is so popular that it frequently is on promotional sales at grocery stores. This trend makes it challenging for manufacturers to increase prices, even as there’s a general trend of rising costs in the food sector.  Due to the rising costs of imported soybeans, artisan tofu producers in the country are struggling to stay in business. As highlighted by Bloomberg, the Teikoku Databank reports that around 40% of tofu makers were operating …

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karana-japan launch

© KARANA

Market & Trends

Japan: Demand for Healthy Alternatives to Animal Products Fuels Vegan Food Market

While still considered a niche market compared to European countries, growing awareness of health and wellness and sustainability concerns are driving the growth of the vegan food market in Japan. The Japanese vegan food market is projected to exhibit a growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% during 2023-2028, according to the IMARC Group, a leading US market research company. Although Japanese cuisine is already considered healthy, Japanese consumers seek healthier options for animal products to improve their well-being and prevent lifestyle-related health issues, according to IMARC Group. Plant-based diets are associated with various health benefits, including reduced risk of chronic diseases, weight management, and slowing the aging process. To cater to these consumers, long-established companies, such as the miso producer Marukome and the brown rice company …

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Cultivated grouper fillet

Cultivated grouper fillet © UMAMI Bioworks

Cultivated Seafood

Japanese Consumers Show Strong Interest in Tasting and Buying Cultivated Seafood, Says Research Study

A research study exploring the opinions of Japanese consumers toward cultivated seafood suggests that attitudes towards this novel food are generally positive, with 70% of participants showing interest in tasting it and 60% expressing willingness to purchase it once it is available.  The study, one of the latest dissertations from the University of Winchester MSc Animal Welfare, Behaviour, Ethics and Law students, investigated the knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of Japanese consumers toward cell-based seafood.  The researchers conducted an online survey with over 100 participants to collect the data. From this sample, a majority said to regularly consume seafood, indicating that its consumption is significant in Japan. Notably, a small percentage stated they would never eat seafood due to veganism. The findings reveal a lack of …

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Umami United has partnered with KENKO to co-develop a new plant-based egg salad.

© KENKO

Egg Alternatives

Umami United Partners with Japanese Giant KENKO Mayonnaise to Introduce Plant-Based Egg Salad

Plant-based egg producer Umami United has partnered with one of Japan’s biggest food manufacturers, KENKO Mayonnaise Co Ltd (KENKO), to co-develop a new plant-based egg salad for the ready-to-eat category — the Marude Tamago Salad.  The salad is the latest launch of KENKO’s new plant-based food brand, HAPPY!! with VEGE. Entirely vegan, it features Umami United’s realistic plant-based eggs and egg-free mayonnaise. It is described as a delicious and versatile plant-based option that can be paired with bread or vegetables. KENKO, known in the country for its mayonnaises, dressings, sauces, processed egg products, and long-life salads for food service, has expanded into the plant-based category in response to the “changing needs and expectations of the times.” With HAPPY!! with VEGE, the company offers meat, dairy, and egg alternatives and plant-based salads. Eggs that everyone …

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© DAIZ

Investments & Acquisitions

Japan’s DAIZ Raises Over $47M to Build Facility for Plant-Based “Miracle Meat”

DAIZ, a plant-based meat company headquartered in Japan, has raised 7.1 billion yen (about $47.44 million) in a Series C funding round. The capital is made up of a combination of loans and equity funding. The funds will be used to construct a new 40,000-square-meter production site in Kumamoto, which DAIZ claims will be the largest plant-based meat facility in Japan. Operations are expected to begin in February 2025, with the facility eventually manufacturing 20,000 tons of the company’s plant-based “Miracle Meat” per year. Through the construction of the new facility, DAIZ hopes to expand the domestic market for its products and accelerate its overseas export strategy. The company also aims to revitalize the local economy through the creation of job opportunities. The new funding …

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Somenoya tofu shop in Barcelona

© Somenoya

Retail & E-Commerce

Japan’s Someno’s TOFU Co. Reports 179% Sales Surge at First Overseas Branch in Barcelona

Someno’s TOFU Co., a Japanese tofu maker since 1862, opened the company’s first overseas branch, Somenoya, in Barcelona, Spain, this February. Eight months after the launch, the company reports that its retail outlet has experienced sturdy growth, with a 179% increase in sales in September compared to February.  TOFU Catalán S.L established the Barcelona shop in 2010; however, it sold its ownership to Someno’s TOFU Co. in October 2022. During the succession period, the business ceased operations, resuming and reopening in February 2023. With the motto “soybeans save the world”, Somenoya offers a tofu collection made by artisans using traditional processing methods and Nigari, a natural coagulant made from seawater. The company also sells SoMeat, a plant-based meat imported from Japan, and a range of Bento lunch …

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UMAMI Bioworks, previously Umami Meats, announces a business partnership with Maruha Nichiro-

© UMAMI Bioworks

Cultivated Seafood

UMAMI Bioworks and Japan’s Largest Seafood Company Join Forces to Bring Cultivated Seafood to Market

Cultivated seafood company UMAMI Bioworks, previously Umami Meats, announces a business partnership with Maruha Nichiro (TYO: 1333), Japan’s largest seafood company. By joining forces, the companies aim to build the infrastructure of Japan’s cultivated seafood industry. As part of the agreement, Maruha Nichiro will invest in UMAMI Bioworks, gaining access to its cell cultivation platform for producing and selling cultivated seafood. The partnership also involves a multi-faceted collaboration to scale UMAMI Bioworks’ process. Mihir Pershad, CEO of UMAMI Bioworks, comments: “Our seminal partnership with Maruha Nichiro, a global leader in crafting beloved food products, is a pivotal step in achieving our mission of addressing the challenge of feeding a growing global population while minimizing environmental impact. We have the development and production technology, but we require experienced partners with …

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