Meat-free boom sees 56 per cent rise for Tofoo

David Knibbs and Lydia Smith, founders of The Tofoo Company in Malton, North Yorkshire. Picture Frank Dwyer
David Knibbs and Lydia Smith, founders of The Tofoo Company in Malton, North Yorkshire. Picture Frank Dwyer
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Food manufacturer The Tofoo Co is expected to increased its turnover by 56 per cent this year, following a boom in the meat-free food industry.

The Malton-based business turned over £4.8m in 2018 and is forecast to reach £7.5m in 2019.

The figure has risen by 200 per cent since 2017 when it posted a £2.5m turnover.

According to Nielson data, Tofoo is now the best-selling tofu in Britain, overtaking Cauldron.

Its Naked Tofoo has become the third best-selling line in the entire meat free category with only Quorn Cocktail Sausages and Cauldron Falafel outselling it.

The tofu brand, run by husband and wife team David Knibbs and Lydia Smith, started as a small, family-run business three years ago and has since grown rapidly to 58 employees with products now sold in major supermarkets including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Co-op and Ocado.

David Knibbs, founder and managing director of The Tofoo Co, said: “Consumers are becoming more aware as to what is in their food, and also the impact their diet has on the environment.

“We’re extremely proud of the fantastic response we’ve had from customers since we launched our organic tofu three years ago, and that our distinctive offering has lead us to be the leading tofu brand in the UK.”

The meat-substitute market has rocketed over recent years with almost half of UK adults choosing to avoid certain foods or ingredients and 39 per cent regularly buying free from food and drink, according to figures from Mintel.

As well as a rising number of vegans and vegetarians, many Brits are cutting down their meat intake by adopting flexitarianism or trends like ‘meat-free Mondays’, and the UK is also witnessing a drive towards healthy eating and sustainability that food brands are giving serious attention to.

In 2018, one in eight Britons said they were vegetarian or vegan according to a report on food shopping, a further 21 per cent said they were “flexitarian”, a largely vegetable-based diet supplemented by meat.

As a result, many brands have stepped into the market providing plant-based products to meet consumer demands.

KFC recently announced it planned on testing a plant-based chicken alternative at one of its restaurants in Atlanta, US.

Following a trial, it was reported that the fast food restaurant had sold out of its Beyond Fried Chicken – made from plant-based Beyond Meat – within hours.

Meanwhile, last week Lewis Hamilton announced he was backing a launch of a new plant-based burger chain - Neat Burger.

The Tofoo Co launched in 2016 with two products in its range: the Naked and Smoked Tofoo.

The interest in tofu has allowed it build a loyal following and since extend the range to six different products.

The newly launched Crispy range consists of two oven products, further expanding the tofu market with the aim of making it convenient and accessible for all.

Mr Knibbs added: “We aim to cater for everyone by providing a product that is not only suitable for vegans and vegetarians but for meat-eaters too.

“Our Tofoo is unique in the marketplace, using only organic and sustainably sourced soya beans and handmade to a traditional Japanese recipe to create great tasting tofu every time.

“The business is growing faster than we could have imagined, and having launched three NPD’s (new product developments) in the last three months and with further growth on the horizon, it is an exciting time for The Tofoo Co.”

The Tofoo Co said it is set for a large factory scale expansion in the autumn.

It is also focusing on new product development to introduce further new flavours and formats of tofu.