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Japanese retail chain Muji has announced that it is releasing four new plant-based meat alternatives across its online and brick-and-mortar stores this month. The news comes amid the rising demand for plant-based foods among mainstream consumers, who are increasingly concerned about health, food safety and sustainability in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Announced on Wednesday (October 28), Muji has launched four new plant-based meats made from soybeans. The new products include a burger patty, meatballs, ground minced meat and thinly sliced meat resembling chicken. All four products are shelf stable and can be stored at room temperature, and do not need to be rehydrated before cooking. In a statement, the company said that they hope to offer their customers healthier and more sustainable options.
While the Japanese retail giant has said that it will be available in stores and on its online platform in its domestic market, there has yet to be more details released regarding whether the new plant-based meat products will land in international markets.
The news comes as demand for plant-based products continues to grow rapidly, a trend that has been accelerated due to the coronavirus crisis, which has highlighted the dangers and vulnerability of the meat supply chain. Latest estimates by market research firm Zion predicts that the plant-based meat industry alone could reach US$21 billion by as soon as 2025.
Other research has found that the overall plant-based food market, which includes plant-based meat, dairy and egg alternatives and vegan frozen consumer products, will hit US$74.2 billion by 2027.
Demand from consumers has even prompted Japan’s biggest chemical company, Shin-Etsu Chemical, to enter the fast-growing plant-based meat supply chain. It has recently developed a new binding agent, which can help improve the texture and structure of plant-based meat alternatives.
It follows a tidal wave of news within Japan indicating the rise of plant-based, from vegan bakeries serving up dairy-free Japanese-style milk buns to burger joints in Tokyo turning their operations 100% plant-based.
Daiz, a plant-based startup in Japan, also made headlines for raising US$6 million in its Series A round, which was led by major institutional and government investors, including state-backed fund A-Five and tech venture capital firm Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. The food tech, which recently won an award at the Future Food Asia 2020 event, says that it will use the capital injection to open one of the biggest vegan meat factories in the country.
According to the firm, the facility will be able to produce a whopping 3,300 tonnes of its proprietary soy-based meat, demonstrating significant demand from consumers. Daiz also hinted that it is looking to go public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Beyond hopping on the vegan trend, Muji introduced a new furniture subscription service in July as working from home and mindful consumption becomes the widespread norm. Consumers in Japan can now rent furniture and interior items at selected stores through monthly or annual subscription plans.
Lead image courtesy of Muji / designed by Sally Ho for Green Queen Media.