What Happened: Canadian food manufacturer Top Tier Foods collaborated with Japanese counterparts to create a soy-based Wagyu alternative, Wagyu Plant-Based Teriyaki Strips.
It can be used in place of sliced Wagyu beef and includes familiar tastes like soy sauce, rice wine, garlic paste and ginger.
TTF appears to be confident enough in its plant-based product that it can sell directly to the Japanese market. The company started distributing its food product to restaurants in Japan and is weeks away from a large-scale production run.
“With our plant-based Wagyu, we wanted to create a product that honors and celebrates wagyu beef and does so respectfully but do so for a very different clientele, one who for various reasons is moving away from animal protein in their diet,” VegNews quoted TTF President Blair Bullus as saying.
Why It’s Important: TTF’s main advantage over traditional Wagyu is its cost structure, Bullus said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”
Wagyu is famed worldwide for its rich taste, in part due to an extravagant diet and massages.
TTF’s Wagyu plant-based product is “much less” than Wagyu and similar to other plant-based food makers, Bullus said. As such, TTF doesn’t consider itself to be a competitor to Wagyu itself, as it is a luxury item with its own market and very little vegan or vegetarian overlap, he said.
What’s Next: TTF “isn’t afraid” of the very competitive plant-based food space, as its products are backed by some of the top chefs in the world, including Toronto-based Japanese Cultural Ambassador Chef Hidekazu Tojo, he said.
The company plans on leveraging recent success and developing new products with different textures so it can enter into new categories.
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