When Morinaga developed aseptic packaging for its tofu product nearly three decades ago, the Japanese food giant was able to extend the shelf life of its silken style tofu to one year and allow for its refrigeration free transport. With this break through packaging, the food giant acquired the benefit of being able to export its sought after silken style tofu.
Thus was born Morinaga Nutritional Foods in Torrance, California in 1985. Later, to address the growing demand for its silken style tofu across the United States, Mori Nu opened a state- of-the-art production facility in Oregon in 1997.
“Our soy beans are from Ohio, so we produce everything here in the United States,” explained President and Chief Executive Officer Hiroyuki Imanishi. “Our product is very different from the more common water packed tofu. In the United States, there are about 130 tofu manufacturers, but we are the only one that Morinaga offers healthy options uses aseptic packaging. We also have a new line, which uses a different coagulant and is much more traditional.”
After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved claims that the likelihood of heart disease is reduced with a daily intake of soy protein, Mori Nu’s sales climbed steadily. Half of the total sales come from Asian communities in the U.S., while the remainder is equally divided between non Asian consumers and the export market, with Europe being the largest.
In the future, Imanishi will focus on developing more business within the U.S. and other export markets, particularly in Central and South America.
“We want to make people more aware of the positive benefits of our packaging. For instance, with our packaging there is no space for water to be released from the tofu despite the extended shelf life, which makes our tofu fresher,” said Imanishi.