From Japan to the US: How 2foods is transitioning to the American plant-based market
As nostalgic foods and beverages saw a resurgence during the pandemic, 2foods’ portfolio of plant-based comfort foods aims to grab the attention of U.S. consumers through taste and familiarity. Based on data from FMI – The Food Industry Association’s Power of Plant-based Foods and Beverages report, 96% of U.S. consumers are driven by taste followed by quality at 95%.
“We believe that taste is what is more important,” Azuma explained to FoodNavigator-USA. “We strive to create delicious, plant-based menu items that are healthier versions of our favorite comfort foods by utilizing healthier ingredients to achieve our concept: healthier junk food.”
In the transition from Japan to the U.S., Azuma added that plant-based foods are “still more of a trend [in Japan] and not as common, especially outside of major cities like Tokyo and Osaka.” Meanwhile, in the U.S. the overall plant-based market reached $8 billion in sales in 2022, with plant-based meat at $1.4 billion and plant-based milk at $2.8 billion, based on Good Food Institute (GFI) data.
2foods’ plant-based comfort food portfolio
2foods’ Ever Chicken Nugget is made from soybean meat, sunflower oil and oat fiber to mimic the “chicken-like elasticity and fiber texture,” along with a crust made of corn flakes. The plant-based nuggets are accompanied by plant-based cheese, pepper and garlic mayo and lemon tartar sauces.
“Our goal with the Ever Chicken Nugget,” Azuma said, “was not only to create a delicious plant-based alternative to traditional chicken nuggets but also to differentiate ourselves from the many options available globally.”
The versatility of 2foods’ Gâteau Chocolat is notable as it can be consumed in three ways. Made from ultra-fine brown rice flower, almond milk and organic sugar, its evolving texture depends on temperature. When taken out of the refrigerator, “it’s almost like a raw chocolate cake.” At room temperature, it turns to a dense mousse, and when heated, it turns into a sauce-like texture ideal as a dessert topping.
Ever Egg and the U.S. plant-based egg market
2foods’ flagship product Ever Egg is made from carrots and white beans that are blended to “create a soft scramble” with a natural yellow appearance.
Given the rising cost of farm-raised eggs attributed to inflation and bird flu, plant-based eggs are still early in consumer adoption—but with potential for significant growth. In 2022, GFI reported that less than 2% of U.S. households purchased plant-based eggs “presenting a massive runway for the category to continue growing.”
Recreating the texture of animal-based ingredients is an ongoing challenge for plant-based food brands, and along with entering the U.S. market, Azuma added that meeting consumer texture profiles in both markets will add another layer to the challenge.
Health continues to drive consumers’ plant-based food preferences for both markets. Although consumer concerns for additives and minimal nutrients in processed plant-based foods may pose a barrier, according to a study from Market Shake.
“[Japanese consumers] care for quality, nutritional values, as well as food safety. Their top concerns are pesticides, antibiotics and hormones in food. So when they turn themselves to plant-based meat alternatives, it’s primarily for health reasons. Japanese consumers are conscious that these products can help maintain weight, keep bad cholesterol at bay and generally have a healthier diet,” the study reported.
Developing a multimedia branding strategy that promotes authenticity and culture
The company’s operational expansion begins with its new Los Angeles headquarters supplying product for food service, hotels and a grocery for B2B sales.
Azuma added that a multimedia branding strategy will be built around original content, music and sustainable fashion designed by the company “to demonstrate that 2foods is not simply a food company but a company that creates real and authentic culture. We believe that creating a story that people want to be a part of is a key differentiator from other traditional food brands.”