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The Tofoo Co. makes factory investment after growth in demand
The Tofoo Co. is set to increase its factory capacity by 70% with the installation of a new soy milk cooker, allowing the company to increase turnover from £14m per annum to almost £20m by 2021.
The cooker, which was commissioned, assembled and shipped from Japan, will enable the North Yorkshire-based manufacturer to generate an additional 50 tonnes of plain tofu per week.
Since the business was purchased by its current owners in 2016, The Tofoo Co.’s turnover has increased from £600,000 to £14m with 93 full time staff members, and demand has continued to grow throughout 2020.
Recent data from Nielsen suggests a strong growth in the meat free category. Statistics show that in April 2020, an additional 1.8 million households were buying meat free products and tofu was the fastest growing segment, currently valued at £32m.
David Knibbs, managing director of The Tofoo Co. said: “The arrival and installation of the new milk cooker marks a further one million pound investment at the Tofoo factory. The new piece of equipment will support the business to increase its monthly turnover that currently sits at over £1 million. We’re also expanding our operational output with packing hall machinery and pressing to ensure we have enough capacity to meet the anticipated high demand.
“Trends suggest that interest in trying tofu has increased, and with cafés and restaurants currently closed, people are experimenting more with what they can cook at home. The tofu category penetration is continuing to increase, up 40% compared to two years ago, and its share in meat free is growing month on month. The category has also added over 500,000 households in one year, however there are currently 5.8 million households eating meat free who aren’t trying tofu. The opportunity for growth within the sector is significant.
“The new Nielsen data has also found that The Tofoo Co. is now the third largest brand in meat free as a whole, and has added more buyers than any other mainstream brand. The business’ share of meat free is at a record 7.5% and it’s the brand leader in the tofu market with a 46% share overall.”
The business is looking to continue meeting ongoing demand with a recruitment drive throughout the year, and new product development including its sage & onion sizzlers which launched in April 2020. Since being purchased, the independent and family-run business has grown rapidly and now offers a range of 10 products stocked in major supermarkets including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado and Co-op.
David added; “When we purchased the brand in 2016 it was only selling block tofu, but we’ve taken this basic concept and developed it further. It’s gratifying to see how much Tofoo has been embraced by consumers and how many people we’ve engaged who previously didn’t understand how to use tofu. It’s a versatile product which has been enjoyed in eastern diets for thousands of years and we want to encourage consumers to see it as a staple ingredient.”