Pulmuone releases plant-based canned ham using vegetable material extracted from soybeans

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : December 28, 2022, 16:19 Updated : May 30, 2023, 02:56

[Courtesy of Pulmuone]

SEOUL -- Pulmuone, a food company based in Seoul, released an alternative meat-based canned ham using textured vegetable protein extracted from soybeans. Unlike regular canned ham products that contain sodium nitrite to prevent animal ingredients from being oxidized, the new plant-based meat did not use the chemical compound. 
South Korea's vegan meat market has been rapidly growing to meet demands of some 2 million vegans. According to data released by the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation, the country's vegan meat market which stood at 22.7 billion won ($17.9 million) in 2020 will reach 29.4 billion won in 2025. In July 2021, Shinsegae Food, a food company affiliated with Shinsegae, released vegan cold cuts, pre-cooked or sliced cuts of meat, for Starbucks sandwiches nationwide. Data cited by Pulmuone showed that ham and sausage are the most popular plant-based meat items. 
In South Korea, canned ham products including Spam, a popular brand made by American food processing company Hormel Foods, are widely consumed. As of 2020, about 1.2 billion 200-gram (0.4 pounds) Spam products were sold in the country. The canned pork was first introduced during the 1950-53 Korean War when American soldiers fought alongside South Korea to repel North Korea's invasion. Leftover pork products in U.S. military bases were often eaten by South Koreans. Using the canned ham, a popular Korean-style spicy stew Budae Jjigae was created. The stew made with ham, sausages, baked beans, and Kimchi, a traditional fermented vegetable dish, was chosen as the favorite dish among Chinese tourists in a survey conducted in 2016.

Pulmuone said in a statement on December 28 that the alternative meat product called "LIKE Luncheon Meat" was released without using too many food additives. The plant-based canned ham that cost 4,680 won per 190 grams was made by processing textured vegetable protein (TVP) from soybeans. TVP has to be properly processed to remove the plant-based meats' distinctive smell and texture.  
Vegan meat is gaining recognition for its low-carbon characteristics. Data released by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) showed that greenhouse gases emitted by the livestock industry account for some 15 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products, the total amount of emissions from animal-based food can be significantly reduced.

In December 2021, Pulmuone partnered with the South Korean office of International Flavors & Fragrances, a United States-based food and beverage ingredient developer, to gain a competitive advantage in the global plant-based meat market. According to global market research firm Statista, the global plant-based meat market reached about $6.67 billion as of 2020. Pulmuone is also supplying its vegan meat products to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
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