Tofu Sales Spike Due to COVID-19. Here Are Our Favorite 10 Tofu Recipes to Try
According to market research firm Neilsen, sales of tofu are on spiking during DOVID-19. During the month of March, tofu sales increased by over 66 percent compared to the same period last year. And in May, sales were still climbing, up another 33 percent. Tofu makers, like California-based Hodo Foods, and Japan-based House Foods, have increased their production to meet the demand.
Pulmuone, a South Korea-based food maker, which has 78 percent market share of tofu the world over, says demand is so high that in addition to upping production, it has been forced to import tofu from South Korea, according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, supermarkets have also reported the sales of tofu surging. Wegmans doubled its tofu sales from mid-March to late May, and Kroger reported a 9 percent increase during that same period.
Why the sudden spike in tofu sales?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been putting pressure on meatpacking plants and the meat supply chain. Meat processing plant workers were—and still are—mandated to toil in unsafe conditions, closely packed together on meat processing lines. COVID-19 outbreaks within these facilities have been in the thousands, making the plants a hub of COVID-19 cases in multiple cities where they are located. With plants unable to process animal products, many farmers have been forced to euthanize their animal stock, including chickens (The Beet reported on the rescue of 1,000 birds that were flown to safety and life on an animal sanctuary, having been spared from such "de-populating" practices. )The result of all this meat industry disruption due to COVID-19 has been seen on grocery store shelves, as consumers are seeking meat alternatives.
At the same time, people are becoming more educated about the environmental and ethical issues with animal production and factory farming in the US along with the health hazards that come from consuming animal protein. Red meat has been classified as a class 1 carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
Tofu is still a viable alt-meat protein
Tofu, which is made from soybeans, has been somewhat cast in the shadows over the last few years as “bleeding” meat-like substitutes from companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have taken the spotlight. Yet, the latest reports suggest there is growing interest in the classic plant-based soybean protein source. It has 20 grams of protein per cup and just 130 calories for a 3-ounce serving.
Tofu is one of the healthiest, least expensive protein sources on the planet
Tofu has been consumed in Asia for over 1,000 years. The most common kind sold today is water-packed tofu. From acting as the base for a vegan cheesecake to being made into vegan orange “chicken,” tofu is quite versatile and healthful too. Dr. Michael Greger, a prominent doctor, best selling author of How Not to Die, and How Not to Diet, and plant-based food advocate who runs nutritionfacts.org says that tofu is preferable to faux meat alternatives.
“Tofu has 40 percent fewer calories than popular plant-based burgers,”Dr. Greger told Bloomberg in an interview. “Consumption of tofu and other soy foods is associated with lower rates of cancer—including the risk of dying from breast cancer—and cardiovascular disease without affecting thyroid hormone levels.”
There are scientific studies that support this claim and conclude that an increased intake of soy can provide greater longevity. One study from Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston found that eating tofu and other soy foods lower your lifetime risk of heart disease, especially in women.
When it comes to price consideration, tofu is arguably cheaper compared to the current faux meats on the market. Fourteen ounces of tofu (which is a little under a pound) sells for $2.99 while one pound of Beyond Meat rings in at $8.99.
The consumption of soy has also been found to be protective against some cancers, according to recent research. so although soy has plant estrogen precursors it does not appear to be linked to breast cancer as was once believed.
The pandemic is once again shedding light on just how non-essential meat is. Tofu is a healthful and affordable protein that is clearly proving its staying power.
For Our 10 Best Tofu Recipes, Check Out The Beet's Favorites Below.