Japanese food maker develops plant-based seafood alternatives

A leading Japanese food manufacturer has developed plant-based alternative seafood in anticipation of a shortage of marine resources that could trigger a global food crisis.

NH Foods, known as Nippon Ham, spent a year developing fish fries and popcorn shrimp from soybeans and other plant-based materials.

It used seaweed extracts to add a fishy flavor and carefully recreated their soft texture.

It plans to start selling the foods in March.

The company ventured into alternative seafood after successfully developing hams and sausages using plant-based meat substitutes.

A survey by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization shows that annual seafood consumption per person increased about eight-fold in China, and about four-fold in Indonesia, over the half century through 2019.

Population growth and development in emerging economies have led to surging demand for marine resources, which are already dwindling and could become depleted in the future.

Maeda Fumio, NH Foods' General Manager of Processed Foods Business Division, says the company aims to expand the possibilities of protein, and develop various products in the form of ingredients and pre-cooked foods.