Tech progress fuels competition in Japan's alternative food market

Plant-based alternative foods are gaining ground in Japan as a sustainable and nutritious food source.
Japanese and foreign businesses are now in a race to develop technologies that will allow them to get new products on the market quickly.

A US startup says it would start selling its non-dairy ice creams at a major chain of convenience stores in the country this month. The ice cream that Eclipse Foods has developed is not made of milk.

After analyzing the composition of milk, the California-based firm was able to extract ingredients from a variety of plants including cassava and potato that have the same functions.

The startup says the flavors and creaminess of its products are similar to dairy foods.
Eclipse Foods founder and CEO Aylon Steinhart says, "We transition the food system away from industrial animal agriculture and towards alternative proteins like plant-based products."

A Japanese startup, Daiz, has developed soy-based meat and fish-like products. The company's chicken nuggets and tuna rice balls were put on sale at outlets of a convenience store chain last summer.

The firm says by carefully regulating the oxygen, temperature, moisture and other conditions during soybean germination, it was able to increase the amount of amino acids, and produce products that are as nutritious as real meat and fish.