Japanese plant-based manufacturer Next Meats has announced a new product line to be manufactured in its San Jose, Calif., facility. The Next Wagyu Japanese Premium Brisket is the company’s first meat analogue with carbon-negative packaging. The location has previously manufactured existing product ranges with standard packaging options.
The wagyu is made from non-GMO soy without any artificial flavours. Direct-to-consumer preorders have opened, with bulk wholesale options for the hospitality trade confirmed alongside. The product will ship across the U.S. and Canada.
Sustainability on the Next Meats menu
News of Next Meats’ eco-friendly packaging ties in with the company’s intention to embrace carbon negativity. It follows last year’s announcement regarding plans to build a solar-powered alt-protein factory and R&D hub, in Niigata, Japan. If construction is on track, the facility is anticipated to open this summer. It will feature “a range” of sustainability-inspired technology designed to eventually create a carbon-free production system.
Extending sustainability ambitions to the U.S. production site has allowed for product and packaging innovation to come simultaneously.
“Next Meats’ versatile, plant-based products are a delicious addition to any diet, and we are thrilled to expand this journey in the United States and Canada,” Koki Terui, Next Meats USA CEO said in a statement. “With the Next Wagyu line of products now being produced in California, we can bring the quality and craftsmanship known from Japan, with flavors that cater to a North American palette while taking our first steps towards a carbon negative impact with our new packaging.”
The founding of Next Meats USA
Next Meats’ products are available D2C, via its own webstore and in an increasing number of grocery locations in California, Oregon, Nevada, Texas, and New York. The company claims that professional chefs are getting on board as well with Michelin-starred Chef Josef Centeno’s Bar Amá, Chef Reina Montenegro and Celebrity Private Chef Supreme Dow were specifically named.
The U.S. subsidiary of Next Meats was founded in December 2021, to facilitate global sales of plant-based short rib, skirt steak chicken, and dairy.
Vegan wagyu as a gastronomic trend
High-end plant-based meats are gaining traction as a popular alt-protein niche. From vegan fillet mignon to whole-cut salmon fillets, realistic analogues are getting more prevalent. Even one of the most expensive conventional meat varieties is getting the plant-based treatment with a handful of startups looking to perfect vegan wagyu.
Hong Kong’s Alt Farm announced that it is looking to perfect 3D printed vegan wagyu for commercial launch. It has identified China and Australia as key markets to initially enter, hopefully in 2023. The startup is developing A5 wagyu using proprietary printing techniques and specialist nozzles that it claims effectively replicates the marbled structure of animal wagyu.
Canada’s Top Tier Foods has brought a vegan wagyu product to market, through its Wamame Foods subsidiary. The product was first served to attendees of the TED2022 Conference in Aril this year, before being rolled out for general consumers. The development was considered ready for launch following a select trial launch. The startup looked to remain as respectful and true to conventional wagyu as possible, by working with Japanese development teams. Top Tier claims that its final presentation was so realistic that it fooled Japanese chef Hidekazu Tojo.
Not vegan but sustainability-driven, Y Combinator-backed Orbillion is developing cultivated wagyu beef. The San Francisco-based startup recently claimed it foresees reaching price parity with conventional meat by 2026. This is relative to the fact that the company focuses on expensive meat varieties including Japanese wagyu, bison, and elk.
All photos by Next Meats.