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Yorkshire food manufacturer celebrates growth

Yorkshire-based business, The Tofoo Co. Ltd has reported an 89 per cent year on year increase in turnover for 2020 and has launched the UK’s first ever frozen tofu product.

Marking its most successful trading year to date, the tofu manufacturer has announced its 2020 turnover was £14.7m, a significant contrast to its first year of trading in 2016, when Dave Knibbs and Lydia Smith acquired the business, where turnover was £600,000.

The Tofoo Co. is now the third largest brand in the chilled meat-free market which is worth a staggering £289m – up 37per cent. Data demonstrates that sales of meat-free ingredients are booming with more than 27 per cent of UK households buying alternatives to meat.

The tofu category, which is outperforming the meat-free market, is valued at £40 million and more than one million households are now buying The Tofoo Co.’s products regularly, with its Naked block being the best-selling ingredient in the whole of the chilled meat-free category. The firm has ambitious growth plans for next year; an investment in staff and resources will see the company increase turnover to £20 million by the end of 2021.

David Knibbs, founder and managing director of The Tofoo Co., said: “In the last four years we’ve been on a mission to share with consumers, the incredible ingredient that is tofu. Through consistent innovation and a strong brand presence, we’ve built a very loyal consumer base that enjoys making delicious and wonderfully unexpected meals using The Tofoo Co. products.

“Consumers have fallen in love with our products and as a result, January 2020 was the start of a very successful year, when the brand turned over a record £1m in just one month. Throughout the year we’ve surpassed this total and in November 2020, celebrated sales of £1.4m.

“This Veganuary we’re planning to replicate the same success we’ve experienced in the chilled sector, in the frozen category by launching Tofoo Chunkies. Our entry into this market is part of our quest to make tofu more accessible.

“We know from research that this crispy format makes consumers really think differently about tofu – its taste, texture and how to use it.  As a product it really overcomes some of the barriers to trial and shows how truly versatile tofu can be.”

2020 has seen significant growth in a market that offers consumers an alternative protein source to meat. Covid-19 and its zoonotic links dominated the media, a surge in scratch cooking during the national restrictions was experienced and society received a weighty message from David Attenborough in his  ‘A Life On Our Planet’ documentary about environmental impacts.

The Tofoo Co. follows a strict soya bean sourcing policy; its bean to block guarantee means that all soya beans are organic, GM Free, and are obtained from a sustainable source. The firm has strong plans to become a certified B Corporation in 2021, joining a community of business leaders to accelerate global change and redefine commercial success.

David added: “The requirement to be sustainable in all areas of society is very real and every generation is recognising this. The Tofoo Co.’s success in part is due to the fact that, not only do consumers enjoy our great tasting products, they appreciate the soy we use is grown and harvested in a sustainable way.

“This reassurance has helped to make The Tofoo Co. the third largest brand in chilled meat-free and consistently outperforming the overall market.

“Although tofu has been around for thousands of years, it’s an ingredient that is seen as very modern; it encapsulates how people are eating today. We’re noticing an ever-increasing shift towards ethical consumption as people become more aware of the food choices they make.

“Fresh meat substitutes is the fastest growing food category and third fastest growing FMCG category behind hand sanitiser and first aid. This demonstrates a real change in people’s eating habits – consumers are now looking beyond meat for protein.

“Tofoo is not a meat substitute, it’s made with only three ingredients and provides people with a great source of protein. It can be incorporated into a healthy, natural diet. As an ingredient in its own right, it’s extremely versatile, allowing experimentation with flavours and cuisines in the kitchen.”

The Tofoo Co. now employs 110 local people from its home in Malton and increased its factory capacity in 2020 by 70 per cent, with the installation of a new soy milk cooker. Its core product, the Naked block is stocked in every Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose & Sainsbury’s store across the country.

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