Companies say production will continue at Tofurky’s Hood River plant following acquisition by Japan-based Morinaga Nutritional Foods.
Tofurky, the Hood River-based maker of alternative meat products, announced last week that it and its parent company Turtle Island Foods has been acquired by Morinaga Nutritional Foods, a subsidiary of Japanese food and beverage company Morinaga Milk Industry. Tofurky’s sister brand, the plant-based cheese product Moocho, was also acquired in the deal.
“We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved thus far as an independent and family-operated company, but as we enter our next stage of growth, Morinaga will provide the platform needed to help us expand more aggressively in the U.S. and beyond,” Tofurky CEO Jaime Athos said in a press release about the deal.
According to the press release, Tofurky will continue to manufacture at its Hood River facility.
Turtle Island Foods CEO Jaime Athos. Photo: Jason E. Kaplan
“We’re excited to help bolster both Tofurky and Moocho’s presence in the U.S. while strengthening manufacturing efficiencies and boosting new product development to meet ever-increasing marketplace demand,” Morinaga Nutritional Foods’ CEO, Hiroyuki Imanishi said in the statement.
The two companies already have an established working history. Morinaga has been a tofu supplier to Tofurky for 17 years. According to the release Morinaga plans to increase the number of technical staff and production capacity at Tofurky’s Hood River manufacturing facility.
Morinaga is a private company and is not required to disclose how much it paid for the acquisition. According to disclosure documents, Tofurky’s net sales were approximately $42.4 million in the fiscal year ending in December 2021.
Morinaga also operates a tofu manufacturing facility in Tualatin and a sales and research and development office in Torrance, Calif. In its release, Morinaga said it “plans to leverage synergies” from Tofurky’s sales teams to fine-tune total portfolio approaches to the U.S. marketplace.”
Tofurky was founded by Athos’s stepfather Seth Tibbot, who started Tofurky’s parent company Turtle Island Foods in a treehouse in 1980. The company gained popularity from its production of Tofurky, a savory plant-based loaf, which is still popular at Thanksgiving.
The acquisition comes as the company continues to ramp up production to meet demand. Vegan and vegetarian eating trends continues to see rapid growth across global markets: according to the Bloomberg Intelligence Report, plant-based food sales are expected to increase fivefold by 2030.. In 2016, the company expanded its operation by building an additional 44,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. In 2019, the company debuted its Moocho line of dairy-free cheese, cheesecake, cream-cheese products.
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The purchase also follows a trend toward consolidation in the food industry. In 2021, global food company Danone acquired Earth Island, the company that produces vegan mayonnaise brand Follow Your Heart. The acquisition was part of Danone’s global strategy to increase global plant-based sales to $6 billion by 2025. In August 2022, KraftHeinz announced it would sell its powdered cheese business to the global food corporation Kerry.
Tofurky has led the legal charge against legislation attempting to regulate sales language surrounding plant-based foods.
Last year, the company won a legal victory in Arkansas, after it joined the Good Food Institute, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union to sue the state over a law that prohibited plant-based protein companies from using words like “burger,” “chorizo” and “hot dog” on their packaging. The judge in that case sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that the law was unconstitutional.
The company is also serving as lead plaintiff in similar lawsuits related to the labeling of plant-based product labeling in Oklahoma, Missouri and Louisiana.
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