As the overall market recovers, the food and beverage industry has seen a gradual rebound along with many innovative trends. In the Japanese market, our industry analysts found many products that adapt the cutting-edge trends seen at FOODEX, one of the largest food and beverage exhibitions in Asia. Here are three of those innovations we think will take off: fermented products, rice as a wheat alternative, and meat substitutes.
Fermentation is a metabolic process that produces chemical changes in organic substrates through the action of enzymes, breaking down carbohydrates to form acids, gases or alcohol.
Fermented foods are a great source of beneficial bacteria and prebiotics, which can help improve digestion, boost immunity and reduce inflammation. Nowadays, consumers in general are interested in a diet that supports digestive/gut health.
Kome koji + fruit vinegar
Kome koji is a starter made from rice, used for making fermented food and drink. The process turns the starch in the rice into sugar, making it suitable as a natural sweetener.
Sukkiri Amazake is a naturally sweet drink that comes in four flavours: kurozu (black Vinegar), apple cider vinegar, lemon and plum. It is claimed that its slightly sour taste has additional benefits that make the drinker feel refreshed.
Rice as a wheat alternative
Rice has long been used as an alternative ingredient to wheat, as it is gluten-free. Mintel data shows that consumers globally are now more health-conscious than ever. In the US, rice-based pastas grew on menus from Q1 2019-22 – fusilli rice pasta, for example, grew by +225%.
SL Creations’ new frozen meal brand, Wise days, targets working women in their 30s. It was created with the concept of helping maintain a wise lifestyle every day with eco-friendly, delicious and innovative pots and soups from around the world. The products contain glass noodles, which are gluten-free and do not use artificial seasonings. The containers also use eco-friendly paper materials.
Consumers are looking for meat alternatives for a number of reasons. Some believe that more restaurants should serve plant-based meat alternatives because they are healthy, while others think that plant-based food/drink should cost less than animal-based products. With meat prices increasing globally, companies should think carefully about offering plant-based products as a less expensive option than meat.
Meat alternative brand Deats uses okara (a tofu and soy milk byproduct) and konjac (a traditional Japanese food produced from konjac root), both of which are great sources of fibre.
Konjac product manufacturer Hokumo Kuroho is located in Gunma prefecture, where 90% of Japan’s konjac root is produced. The brand’s konjac jerky – Kamikami Konjac – comes in two variants: black pepper and spicy beef. Both claim to be great low-calorie, high-fibre snacks.