Tofurky acquired by Morinaga Nutritional Foods in ‘an expected move’ for plant-based pioneer

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Tofurky
Image Credit: Tofurky

Related tags Tofurky plant-based meat acquisition

Following in the footsteps of its competitors Field Roast and Lightlife, Tofurky announced its acquisition, along with its sister brand Moocho, by US-based tofu manufacturer Morinaga Nutritional Foods. This deal was “an expected move” for the third largest US plant-based meat company, as it needed “a company with strong distribution and R&D to expand [its] market share,” Miri Eliyahu, senior analyst at Euromonitor, told FoodNavigator-USA.

Having partnered with Morinaga for 17 years, Tofurky will see “multiple synergies​” from the deal, the brand’s President and CEO Jaime Athos shared in a press release​. For one, Tofurky hopes to strengthen its “integrated supply chain​” with Morinaga and improve “new product development targets.​” 

Morinaga’s long-term vision for US marketplace development was attractive to my family,​” Athos told FoodNavigator-USA. “We appreciated their intention to grow the brand domestically and beyond, maintain jobs in our community, and forecast development for the next generation of plant-based consumers. Their intention around stability and steady growth felt synergistic.​”

While ownership of Tofurky will change hands, Athos will remain the brand’s CEO and president, and “it is business as usual​” for all its customers and partnerships, including with food startup Triton Algae​.

Boosting capacity, strengthening manufacturing

As part of the deal, Tofurky will continue manufacturing from its Hood River, Oregon facility, and Morinaga plans “to increase operational excellence with process engineers and technical staff to maximize capacity,​” Athos said. Morinaga also operates a tofu manufacturing facility in Tualatin, Oregon, and a sales and R&D office in Torrance, Calif.

Tofurky has a proven track record of success in the US and is a significant player in the plant-based category with many loyal fans. We’re excited to help bolster both Tofurky and Moocho’s presence in the US while strengthening manufacturing efficiencies and boosting new product development to meet ever-increasing marketplace demand,”​ Hiroyuki Imanishi, president and CEO of Morinaga Nutritional Foods, said.

Finding a route forward: Can’t beat them join them?

The news of this acquisition comes at a time when many plant-based brands are navigating slumping excitement (and sales). 

Last fall, Deloitte declared that the plant-based​ “addressable market may be more limited than many thought.​” Not only did the hype around the product category fade, but more consumers began to question the health claims of plant-based alternatives and inflation made plant-based alternatives a harder sell, Deloitte reported. To combat this, Deloitte suggested brands bring down costs and reformulate products to add health claims.

Tofurky’s decision to be acquired by Morinaga also highlights another path forward – diversification with traditional animal-based dairies and meats. “Field Roast and Lightlife founders sold their companies to Maple Leaf Foods (a meat company), [and] Follow Your Heart was acquired by Danone (a dairy company),​” Eliyahu pointed out.

Like [its] competition, [Tofurkey] too chose a company with diversified interest in both plant-based and animal-based food products.​”

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