karana-japan launch


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 …


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 …


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


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 …



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 …


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 …


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 …


Umami United raises funds to develop an egg white replacer for bakery and confectionary applications

Image courtesy of Umami United

Investments & Finance

Umami United Secures Funds to Develop Egg White Replacer, Bringing Total Raised to JPY 240M

Japanese food tech company Umami United announces the closure of a Pre-Series A round as Japanese interest in egg alternatives continues to thrive. The round was led by Beyond Next Ventures, a VC supporting early-stage entrepreneurs across Japan and India. Genesia Ventures, a Tokyo-based investor focusing on sustainability, also backed the food tech in this round. The total investment that Umami United has received to date is JPY 240 million. Headquartered in Singapore, Umami United develops plant-based eggs for the food industry. The company claims its product replicates the sensory attributes and functionalities of eggs, offering multiple applications for prepared foods and confectionery goods. With the new capital, the company will increase its R&D capabilities to develop an egg white replacer for the bakery and confectionery …



Egg Alternatives

Egg Alternatives Gaining Traction in Japan as Poultry Egg Prices Continue to Rise

A recent article published by Japan News describes the increase in popularity of egg substitutes in the country, citing the rising cost of poultry eggs as the primary driver. “A survey conducted in May by Teikoku Databank Ltd. found that 29 of the 100 major restaurant operators had withdrawn egg-based menu items […] The trend of rising egg prices may continue for a prolonged period, so it’s crucial for restaurant operators to develop alternative menus,” state the authors. Clearly this situation represents a huge opportunity for producers of more sustainable, animal-free alternatives in Japan. There are a few producers currently on the Japanese market: Kewpie released HOBOTAMA, a soy-based egg launched in 2021 for use in the Horeca channel; 2foods’ Ever Egg was introduced in …


5th Cellular Agriculture Conference 2023 in Japan

Foie gras-flavored savory flan made with duck liver-derived cells © IntegriCulture Inc.

Fairs & Events

Japanese and International Leaders to Speak at 5th Cellular Agriculture Conference in Tokyo

The Cellular Agriculture Institute of the Commons (CAIC), a non-profit based in Japan, and the Society for Cultured-Food Engineering will hold the 5th Cellular Agriculture Conference 2023 — known as one of the largest academic meetings on cell ag in Japan.  Scheduled for August 29, the event will be held in a hybrid format, encompassing both virtual participation and a physical venue at the WATERRAS COMMONS in Tokyo. At the 5th Cellular Agriculture Conference, participants will learn about the latest updates in cell ag, from policy-making to R&D to social and cultural studies. And this year, the conference will cover topics beyond cultivated meat, including precision fermentation and molecular farming. International speakers will discuss global cell ag trends and industry updates. Speakers “This is a unique …


GALY to launch cultivated cotton


Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Cultivated Cotton to Enter the Market for the First Time Ever

Cultivated cotton produced by US startup GALY is set to be used commercially for the first time, after the company signed a deal with Japan’s Suzuran Medical Inc. Suzuran will use the cotton — which is grown from cells in a bioreactor — to produce medical products such as gauze and absorbent cotton, along with sheets and cosmetic cotton. According to Forbes, thousands of tons of the cultivated fibers will be used each year. The partnership is worth $50 million and will run for ten years, beginning when GALY launches its first commercial facility; however, this likely won’t be for a few years. The agreement follows the success of a proof of concept completed by the two companies in 2021. GALY has also attracted significant …


Plant-Based Grilled Eel for Day of Ox in Japan

©Nissan Food Holdings

Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Japan: Nissin Launching Plant-Based Grilled Eel to Celebrate Day of Ox

Nissin Food Holdings Co. announces it will launch a plant-based version of “kabayaki” grilled eel for this year’s Day of Ox commemoration. Nissan plans to debut the new eel before the country’s Day of Ox celebrations on July 30, when most people enjoy the delicacy.  Realistic taste  According to Nissin, its new plant-based eel recreates the taste, texture and appearance of real kabayaki grilled eel. Made from soy protein and other plant-derived ingredients, the product contains three layers to reproduce the fluffy texture of eel’s white meat and the fat between its meat and skin.  To create the product, the company says it developed a unique three-step process where ingredients are steamed inside a special mold, coated with sauce and roasted, then grilled until the …


foie gras

©PUNTOSTUDIOFOTO Lda-stock.adobe.com

Food Service

Dr Foods / Next Meats Expands its Vegan Caviar & Foie Gras Into Wedding Halls Across Japan

Tokyo-based food tech Dr. FOODS Inc., a publicly listed corporation on the OTC Market in the USA under the ticker symbol “DRFS”, counting Next Meats Co as a subsidiary, revealed in January its plans to launch vegan fois gras and vegan caviar into the North American market. In April, the company stated it had successfully developed “the world’s first plant-based cultured foie gras“. Although the title of first cultivated foie gras likely belongs to France’s GOURMEY, the distinction lies in the fact that the Japanese product is not created from cultured animal cells, but uses the name “cultured foie gras” since “microorganisms are cultured in the manufacturing process. In the future, the company intends to expand into the boundary area between plant-derived meat and cultured …


foie gras - IntegriCulture

Fois gras © IntegriCulture

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

JACA Hosts Sensory Evaluation of 5 Cultivated Meats at Promotional Event in Tokyo

The Japan Association for Cellular Agriculture (JACA), a research group dedicated to cellular agriculture and cultivated food, recently hosted the first-ever promotional event for the industry in Tokyo.  In February 2023, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced that he would foster the development of the country’s cultivated food industry by promoting the sector and improving the market, including safety assurance measures, and developing labeling rules. To build a consensus on necessary measures for food safety requirements for cultivated food, JACA’s event gathered more than 150 stakeholders, government officials, and industry associations, among others. F&B key players included famous ham producer NH Foods, which recently expanded to the plant-based market with two alt seafood products and biotech company Ajinomoto, which collaborates with Israel’s SuperMeat.  Japan’s Wagyu According to the …


Matt O'Connell of Shin-Etsu

© Shin-Etsu


Shin-Etsu: “Plant-Based Products Are a Crucial Aspect of Our Overall Sales Strategy”

Over the past few years, Japanese materials supplier Shin-Etsu has been increasingly innovating in the area of food ingredients that enhance the texture and mouthfeel of plant-based foods. The company — which has facilities in both Japan and Germany — aims to make it possible to match animal products as closely as possible in terms of taste, nutrition, and texture. In 2020, Shin-Etsu announced that it was developing its first product targeted specifically at the plant-based food market — a binder to improve the texture of meat alternatives. The company said it aimed to supply the ingredient to major producers such as Beyond Meat and Nestlé. Since then, Shin-Etsu has been expanding its range to offer more products for the alt meat industry. We spoke …


kewpie vegan mayo

©Q & B Foods Inc.

Products & Launches

Cult Favorite KEWPIE Introduces Vegan Mayo Dressing and Spread

Q & B Foods, a division of Japan’s Kewpie Corporation, announces it is launching KEWPIE Vegan Mayo Dressing and Spread in a new 64 oz size. Described as an innovative mayonnaise alternative, KEWPIE Vegan Mayo is a plant-based version of the company’s highly popular Japanese KEWPIE mayonnaise.  KEWPIE Vegan Mayo is said to offer a rich flavor and smooth texture that closely resembles that of traditional mayo. The kosher and gluten-free product can be used across a wide range of dishes, including salads and sandwiches, and provides a base for a variety of dressings.  KEWPIE has an ambient shelf life of nine months, and the company states the new 64 oz. container can be utilized both at home and in food service. The product has also …


Yoshikazu Azuma

Yoshikazu Azuma ©2foods


Op Ed: Yoshikazu Azuma, CEO of 2foods, On Japan’s Evolving Vegan Market

Yoshikazu Azuma, CEO of Tokyo’s 2foods, is soon to expand Japan’s number one, 100% plant-based fast-casual and CPG brand to the US, bringing its award-winning products including ramen, Japanese curry, gateau, cheesecakes, and doughnuts, to American consumers through newly established arm 2foods US. “We believe that plant-based food has enormous potential in Japan,” says the serial entrepreneur. The ongoing evolution of plant-based in Japan By Yoshikazu Azuma The plant-based food industry has been growing at an unprecedented pace in recent years, with Europe and the United States leading the way. However, Japan is still in its early stages of development in the plant-based market, and there is much potential for growth and expansion. Despite an increase in the number of restaurants serving plant-based foods and …





GOLDWIN and Spiber Present Fashion Collection Made of Brewed Protein Fiber

GOLDWIN INC. announces the launch of its Fall/Winter 2023 collection, featuring five brands simultaneously using the innovative structural protein material Brewed Protein fiber, developed in partnership with Spiber Corporation since 2015. “Through this joint development, we will rethink the relationship between nature and man and consider a completely new way of using materials” After many years of joint development, five brands — The North Face, Goldwin, nanamica, The North Face Purple Label, and Woolrich — have now launched products with Brewed Protein™ fiber, a new next-generation material from Japan, and will be available worldwide in the fall. With the start of mass production of Brewed Protein polymer at Spiber’s Thai plant in early 2022 – eight years after Goldwin and Spiber began their joint development …


Plant-based short ribs


Products & Launches

NEXT MEATS to Debut Marinated BBQ Product “Next Short Rib 2.1” at All Costco Japan Locations

Japanese food tech company NEXT MEATS (OTC: NXMH) announces it will launch its latest alt-protein innovation, Next Short Rib 2.1, at all 31 Costco Wholesale locations in Japan beginning in March.  Described as marinated Japanese BBQ, Next Short Rib 2.1 is made from non-GMO soybeans, and will be sold in two 200g sets in a larger package designed exclusively for Costco Japan. The 100% plant-based product is made without any additives, preservatives and artificial flavors, NEXT MEATS says, and has a refrigerator shelf life of up to 90 days. The company will also offer live cooking demonstrations and tastings at select Costco Japan locations.  New markets Based in Tokyo, NEXT MEATS is a subsidiary of NEXT MEATS Holdings, which is devoted to the research, development …


plant based seafood


Meat- and Fish Alternatives

Japanese Ham Manufacturer Develops Plant-Based Seafood Ahead of Global Food Crisis

Japanese Ham Manufacturer NH Foods (日本ハム株式会社), known as Nippon Ham, has developed two plant-based seafood products — fish fries and popcorn shrimp. The Japanese firm, preparing for a shortage of marine resources that could trigger a global food crisis, spent a year developing the alt products using soy protein, seaweed extracts, and other vegetable ingredients to recreate seafood’s texture and flavours, reports Euronews, adding that the products will launch in March 2023. Founded in 1949, Nippon Ham is a global firm with companies worldwide, including China and the US. The company began with the manufacturing of hams and sausage products. Over the years, it has expanded from being Japan’s biggest protein supplier to developing products such as non-allergenic foods and plant-based alternatives. Its products encompass fresh …


integriculture's project for cultivated meat in japan

© IntegriCulture

Cultivated, Cell-Cultured & Biotechnology

Japanese PM Kishida Announces Intention to Develop Japan’s Cultivated Meat Industry

During a House of Representatives Budget Committee hearing, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced his intention to develop Japan’s cultivated meat industry, reports Nikkei. At the meeting, he stated that he would foster Japanese food tech businesses by promoting the sector and improving the market, including safety assurance measures and developing labelling rules. Responding to Mr. Nobuhiro Nakayama of the Liberal Democratic Party, who was also at the Budget Committee, the Prime Minister stressed that “food tech, including cellular food, is an important technology from the perspective of realising a sustainable food supply.” “We must encourage initiatives that contribute to solving the world’s food problems,” he added. Safety of cultivated meat Speaking about cultivated meat safety, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Katsunobu Kato pointed …