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Food & Beverage

Top Japanese meat processor to introduce plant-based substitutes

NH Foods among several others joining global race to develop meat alternatives

A six-pack of alternative ham slices is among five meat substitute products NH Foods will sell from March.

OSAKA -- NH Foods, a leading meat processing company in Japan, will in March introduce plant-based meat substitutes to its product range.

The company will sell ham- and sausage-like items made mainly from soybeans, in response to a globally increasing demand for plant-based meat substitutes driven by growing awareness for better treatment of animals and healthier diets. The move also comes amid a growing awareness of ESG (environmental, social and governance) investment.

Five products, including a pack of six slices of alternative ham, priced at 217 yen ($1.97), as well as sausages and hamburgers, will go on sale in March. NH Foods has set a sales target of 500 million yen for the lineup's first year on the market.

Swiss financial company UBS estimates the combined global sales of plant-based meat products will reach $85 billion by 2030, from $4.6 billion in 2018. In Japan, the market is expected to grow to $308 million in combined sales by 2023 from about $138 million in 2013, according to research company MarketsandMarkets.

NH Foods' competitor, Osaka-based Marudai Food, introduced plant-based meat substitutes in 2017 and plans to expand its product range this coming spring. Itoham Foods, based in the western Japanese city of Nishinomiya, also plans to introduce eight plant-based products, including "tonkatsu"-like breaded fried cuts and sausages, in February, while Tokyo's Prima Meat Packers is also developing similar products.

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