A recent article published by Japan News describes the increase in popularity of egg substitutes in the country, citing the rising cost of poultry eggs as the primary driver.
“A survey conducted in May by Teikoku Databank Ltd. found that 29 of the 100 major restaurant operators had withdrawn egg-based menu items […] The trend of rising egg prices may continue for a prolonged period, so it’s crucial for restaurant operators to develop alternative menus,” state the authors.
Clearly this situation represents a huge opportunity for producers of more sustainable, animal-free alternatives in Japan. There are a few producers currently on the Japanese market: Kewpie released HOBOTAMA, a soy-based egg launched in 2021 for use in the Horeca channel; 2foods’ Ever Egg was introduced in March of 2022, made from a vegetable and legume blend; and Umami United released a konjac version in the August of the same year. While JUST Egg is available in China and South Korea, it does not appear to be on the Japanese market, although its Sous Vide Egg may have been inspired by Japanese-style omelets.
Price is traditional driver in Japan, though this is changing
Japan is a complex market not comparable to the West, where lines are blurred in terms of labeling and definitions of vegan and plant-based products. Price remains the key driver, partly because Japanese cuisine is already perceived as healthy.
“In general, the average Japanese consumer still needs to be educated about the benefits to their health and the planet by consuming these options,” explains Tokyo-based 2foods to vegconomist this afternoon.
2foods reports that its egg product has seen huge success since its arrival last year, and reveals that a new iteration, Ever Egg 2.0, will hit the shelves next year.
“Ever Egg, a flagship product from 2foods in partnership with Kagome, has seen immense popularity across Japan due to its striking resemblance to eggs from chicken in taste and texture. As we look to the future, our team is excited to be developing Ever Egg 2.0. This new iteration is specifically designed to cater to the diverse palates of consumers worldwide and is expected to hit the market in 2024,” says Yoshikazu Azuma, CEO of 2foods.
Japanese consumers becoming more mindful
In a previous article, Mr Azuma (Azuma-San) explained to vegconomist readers that “Japanese consumers are not yet as ethically conscious as their Western counterparts, making it challenging to promote plant-based options based on their sustainability credentials alone. However, attitudes are changing, and consumers are becoming more mindful of their impact on the environment.”
This rise in conscious purchasing and mindfulness, along with the increasing cost of conventional eggs in Japan, creates the perfect market conditions for plant-based egg products to succeed. The consumption of eggs is integral to Japanese cuisine as with other Asian cultures, and the average person consumes around 320 eggs yearly, second in the world only to Mexico. Following the impact of bird flu and the enormous amount of birds culled in recent years, consumer trust in poultry may have dropped to the point where vegan options present the perfect solution to a plethora of problems, in terms of health and the planet, as well as the market, not least the billions of birds killed each year.
2foods’ Ever Egg 2.0 will launch at the following grocery stores: AEON, Seijo Ishii, Maruetsu, Tokyu Store, and Co-opdeli, as well as the 6th by Oriental Hotel.plant-based just egg chicken eggs poultry soy alternative