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Japanese food tech Next Meats is set to build a new solar-powered factory and R&D hub dedicated to alt-protein production. The new plant, to be constructed in the hometown of one of the co-founders of the brand, will boost its production capacity to meet demand. Next Meats says it will also help lower retail costs and strengthen future plant-based product development.
Next Meats, the company behind the world’s first vegan yakiniku barbecue meat, is set to construct its brand new facility in Niigata. Described as a “one-stop hub”, the new alt-protein plant will house the company’s R&D lab and production lines. Next Meats claims that it will mark Japan’s first large-scale facility of its kind and will open by summer 2022.
Sustainable local production
According to Next Meats, the factory will be powered by renewable energy, in line with its sustainable protein mission. Co-founder and CEO Ryo Shirai, who announced the plan to construct the factory in his hometown, says the new “NEXT Factory” will feature solar panels as well as “other sustainable technologies”.
Partnering with a local construction firm, the building will be made from sustainably sourced local materials, said Shirai.
He added that the decision to build the factory in Niigata is part of his “desire to contribute to and lead the alternative protein industry” while “giving back to his hometown”. The CEO went on to reveal that Next Meats plans to collaborate with local brands such as snack producer Kameda Seika to jointly research and develop alt-protein products in the future.
The food tech has already signed an agreement with the firm and Nagaoka University of Technology to co-create new plant-based meat products.
Meeting plant-based demand
Next Meats says that its new factory will increase its production capacity for its growing portfolio of plant-based protein alternatives, amid surging demand for alt-protein products in Japan and globally. Beyond yakiniku analogues, the company’s line-up currently includes plant-based chicken, a vegan gyudon beef bowl alternative as well as Next Egg, its first egg substitute.
So far, the company has expanded to 9 countries globally, including the U.S., and plans to continue to enter more markets. Next Meats reiterated that they have ambitions to develop vegan alternatives for all animal-based products.
Lead image courtesy of Next Meats.