Pros and Cons of Alternative Approaches? We interviewed Azuma Foods Corporation, the company behind the next generation of seafood!
In this, our second corporate interview, we interviewed Azuma Foods Corporation, a manufacturer of fresh and processed food ingredients for commercial use!
—First of all, why did you decide to exhibit at FOOD TECH PARK?
In addition to being a place where many next-generation and new-generation food products are gathered, the location of the event is in an area and store that is frequented by the trend-sensitive generation, especially the younger generation, so we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to let people know about our new initiatives. Another reason was that we felt that the theme of FOOD TECH PARK, “a place where people can experience exciting innovation,” had a synergistic effect with our motivation and mission of developing alternative food brands.
—Thank you very much! We are very interested in your company’s efforts toward sustainable use of marine resources, and that is why we contacted you. I’d like to ask you about your specific products, but could you tell us about the background of the development of the GREEN SURF brand (why are you working on alternative marine products?)?
For two years starting in 2019, our company was hit hard by the Icelandic government’s policy of banning fishing for roe of capelin, an important raw material resource. In light of this situation, we wanted to provide as many people as possible with a new food option in the form of alternative seafood products.
Although it was controversial for our company, which manufactures many processed marine products, we started this project because we believe that there is a message that we can convey because we handle a lot of marine raw materials and have benefited a lot from them.
In 2014, we started manufacturing plant-based meat using our seafood processing technology, ahead of the boom in Japan, and steadily increased our sales to overseas customers, which also encouraged us to start working on seafood alternatives.
—I understand that even within the company, there was controversy over the initiative. Recently, processed meat manufacturers have been entering the meat substitute market, and I believe that your company, which is mainly engaged in the business of processed marine products, has the message and influence to convey. What is the concept of your products?
The three types of the as if series on display this time are most notable for their realistic appearance and flavoring that can be arranged in almost the same way as real sashimi.
In addition, many consumers, especially pregnant women, refrain from consuming raw fish, so we believe that this consumption can be proposed as an option to reduce the stress caused by food restrictions.
Although the term “substitute” is used, our GREEN SURF brand and product concept is not only a food alternative to the real thing, but also a new food option that aims to coexist with existing resources and industries.
—In the past few years, awareness of sustainable issues has been growing rapidly in Japan, but there is still a gap in awareness of the issues compared to other countries.
This brings me to my last question. Your company is also working on the development of marine product alternatives such as veggie eel (tentative), but what are your future prospects in the food tech market?
Although there are not many businesses that have started to develop and manufacture seafood alternatives, we believe that their attention is increasing day by day, and competitors are appearing one after another. In addition, as the demand for meat alternatives increases, we believe that new genres of alternative foods will be benchmarked against alternative meats in terms of price and product perfection.
In order to continue answering the high demands of consumers, we would like to constantly brush up our products even after they have been introduced to the world, and continue our efforts to be called the “pioneer of Tako Wasabi and marine alternatives”.
We will also strive to play a role in boosting the food tech market in Japan by utilizing our knowledge of alternative meat from early on, and by working with other businesses to implement initiatives that go beyond the framework of business.
—The demands of Japanese consumers are high, and we look forward to your continued growth as a pioneer in marine product substitutes! We are also determined to work together to make more people aware of the global environmental issues that food tech is tackling!
Today, I had the pleasure of interviewing Azuma Foods, the company behind GREEN SURF. Thank you very much!
For more information about GREEN SURF, click here. Please take a look.