Meat Alternatives Entering Mainstream in Japan

Meat Alternatives Entering Mainstream in Japan

According to a recent market report, soy-based beef is very well accepted in Japan, and meat alternatives have gained popularity there partly due to a change in consciousness during the epidemic.

According to GlobalData research, the Japanese market will grow at a 5% CAGR to reach JPY36.3 billion ($373.5 million) by 2026.


According to reports, the nation’s propensity for soy-based goods, which have seen a growth over the previous two years, is driving the upswing. Because soy-based foods like miso and soy sauce are engrained strongly in traditional Japanese culture, Japanese consumers have confidence in soy-based meats.

Nikkei Asia reported in September that restaurants and stores are continuing to expand their offerings of soy-based alternative meat items despite a 1.5X price increase on soybean crops since 2020 as a result of the Ukraine crisis and growing demand.

In terms of soy-based alternative meat products, Next Meats, a startup that has enjoyed retail success in the US this year, is the most significant player in Japan. In its home nation, Next Meats claims to have been the first to specialize in plant-based meat, and the business is now valued at more than $4 billion.

“Health, safety, sustainability, and taste are the key factors stimulating the purchase of meat substitutes in Japan. Western food trends are also strongly influencing young Japanese consumers to adopt flexitarian and vegan lifestyles,” says Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData.

Pandemic effects

According to market research, Covid’s effects have caused “more health-conscious and experimentative youth making vegan meat a part of their diets,” a trend that is consistent with markets around the world.

“The availability of meatless meat options in retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated consumer awareness and first-time purchases. The long shelf-life of meat substitutes attracted Japanese shoppers as they stocked their pantries to avoid frequent trips to grocery stores. The market gained momentum as more brands entered the fray and rolled out diverse product types, customized for Japanese palates,” says Verghese.

“As the COVID-19 regulations were eased, and food service venues reopened in 2021, leading operators cashed in on the veganism trend, launching animal-free meat dishes, thereby popularizing meat substitutes,” Verghese adds.

“In light of the sporadic COVID-19 outbreaks in 2022, health-conscious consumers are expected to make dishes with meat alternatives a regular addition to their diets. The onus is on the manufacturers to introduce products with the taste, aroma, and visual profile of animal meat, in customized formats for Japanese cuisine. With consumer price inflation in 2022 rising at the fastest pace in four decades, affordability will be a key factor influencing sales of meat substitutes in Japan.”

Source: “Report Says Meat Alternatives in Japan Have Entered Mainstream” by vegconomist

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