Tofu brands are increasing production to keep up with demand as Americans look to the soy-based protein as an alternative to animal products.
Sales of tofu in the United States (as it also has in Canada) increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic according to data by market research firm Neilsen. During the four-week period ending on March 28, sales of tofu increased by 66.7 percent when compared to the same time period last year. As animal meat shortages set in due to slaughterhouse closures and subsequent supply chain disruptions, tofu sales were still up by 32.8 percent in May.
Several tofu producers confirmed to Bloomberg that sales spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Oakland, CA-based Hodo Foods; Japan-based House Foods, and South Korea-based Pulmuone (maker of Nasoya, Wildwood, and Azumaya brands)–which recently increased production to six days per week at three of its US plants to keep up with demand. Supermarkets have also seen tofu sales surge, including Kroger (which reported a 9 percent increase from mid-March to late May) and Wegmans (which nearly doubled its tofu sales during that period when compared to 2019).
Data released last month by trade group Plant Based Foods Association (PBFA) and market research company SPINS further illustrates changing consumer buying habits amid COVID-19 pandemic. During the peak pandemic food-buying period in mid-March, sales of plant-based foods overall increased by 90 percent when compared to sales during the same time last year. In the four weeks that followed, plant-based food sales spiked by 27 percent, outpacing total retail food sales by 35 percent.