Sales of tofu have skyrocketed in the US amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
As COVID-19 outbreaks pop up in meat processing facilities across the nation, a number of plants were forced to close or reduce operations. Due to supply chain disruptions, meat shortages have spiked, leading many to stock up on other sources of protein.
As a result, tofu has been steadily increasing in popularity across the country. According to data from global market research firm Neilsen, tofu sales increased by 66.7 percent during the four-week period ending on March 28. This is compared to the same time period in 2019. Sales of tofu were up by 32.8 percent in May.
South Korea-based food producer Pulmuone—which sells a number of tofu brands, including Nasoya, Wildwood, and Azumaya—reported a massive increase in sales. The company says it had to import tofu from South Korea in order to meet the growing demand.
Retailers have also reported an increase in sales. Grocery chain Kroger revealed its tofu sales increased by nearly nine percent from mid-March to late May. Supermarket chain Wegmans also said its tofu sales doubled over the same period compared with the previous year.
Tofu vs. Plant-Based Meat
Compared to other plant-based meats, tofu might be easier on the wallet. While one pound of Beyond Meat’s meatless beef retails for $8.99, 14 ounces of tofu goes for $2.99.
Tofu may also be a healthier option. Research from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that eating tofu more than once a week could reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 18 percent. Studies also show that soy isoflavone—contained within tofu’s soy protein—can help reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol.
“Tofu has 40 percent fewer calories than popular plant-based burgers,” Dr. Michael Greger, who runs the nonprofit nutritionfacts.org, told Bloomberg.
He added: “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.”
A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology found that the frequent consumption of tofu was “significantly associated” with a reduced risk of stomach cancer. Similarly, research shows the intake of selenium—which tofu contains—may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer.