The future of tofu: pressed, baked and vacuum-packed

By Elizabeth Crawford

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Tofu

The future of tofu: pressed, baked and vacuum-packed
Vitasoy USA Inc., the maker of Nasoya products, hopes its new vacuum-packed and ready-to-eat baked tofu products will bring new consumers into the category by making tofu easier to prepare and showcasing its versatility. 

“We are really trying to demystify tofu”​ and show consumers it is not just an ingredient in Asian food and that it is not difficult to prepare, said Tanja Owen, director of marketing for Nasoya, which makes a broad range of tofu, wraps and Asian pastas.

One way the company is illustrating tofu’s versatility is by launching new tofu baked products with flavor profiles that are on trend, Owen said.

In March, it introduced chipotle marinated tofu baked “which is very, very on trend,”​ Owen said. She added flavor forecasters predict the smoky and spicy chipotle will continue to rise in popularity.

The flavor is perfect for salads, sandwiches, fajitas, burritos and more, which shows how tofu can be used in more than just Asian food, she added.

Chipotle joins the firm’s other more traditional tofu baked flavors: teriyaki and sesame ginger. All the baked tofu products can be eaten straight out of the package and are made with non-GMO ingredients, are Kosher and a good source of protein, Owen said.

Pressed, vacuum-packaged tofu

The firm also introduced in March its organic sprouted super firm tofu that is pressed and ready-to-cook in an easy to open vacuum pack, Owen said.

The vacuum pack makes tofu more accessible and comfortable for the average consumer than the more traditional water packed tofu, Owen explained.

“One of the complaints we hear about tofu is when you open it the water sloshes out,”​ which can be surprising and off-putting for first-time users, Owen said. The vacuum packed tofu, on the other hand, is a very familiar packaging. It also has beautiful graphics so when you pick it up, you think, ‘I can work with this.’”

Unprecedented support

Vitasoy USA also is rolling out an “unprecedented support plan”​ with the new products to further help bring new companies into the tofu category, according to business-to-business marketing material.

The firm aggressively is sampling Nasoya tofu at “all kinds of events – foodie events, sporting events, in stores – everywhere,”​ said Owen.  She added that a key to successful demonstrations has been sampling tofu in a familiar format, such as a mock-tuna or –chicken salad.

“We found when we sample it in a format that consumers are already aware of, they are more open and receptive than if we just tried to put the tofu out there,”​ she said, noting “there is still some fear”​ of tofu.

Tofu is not all or nothing

The firm also is positioning tofu as a complement to, rather than a replacement for animal protein, Owen said.

“People think [to eat tofu] you are either all in or you are out, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” ​she said. Consumers can swap tofu for half the meat in their chili, for example, and they will still have the taste and texture they know but less saturated fat and cholesterol than if they used all meat.

Plus, Owen added, using part tofu will reduce the cost of cooking because tofu is not as expensive as meat.

This message aligns with the brand’s goal to go after flexitarians who eat some meat but also want plant-based alternatives, Owen said. She noted the firm also is going after millennials who are more adventurous eaters, but have limited time to cook – which is where the new convenient packaging can help. 

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