Japan Focus: 3D-printed wagyu, Ajinomoto and Meiji on malnutrition, Japan's bid to create space food and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

3D-printed wagyu, Ajinomoto and Meiji on malnutrition, Japan's bid to create space food and more feature in this edition of Japan Focus. ©Getty Images
3D-printed wagyu, Ajinomoto and Meiji on malnutrition, Japan's bid to create space food and more feature in this edition of Japan Focus. ©Getty Images

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3D-printed wagyu, Ajinomoto and Meiji on malnutrition, Japan's bid to create space food and more feature in this edition of Japan Focus.

$900 for 1.5cm 3D-printed steak: Scientists construct wagyu-like structure using bioprinting tech

Scientists in Japan have found a way to 3D-bioprint wagyu beef by assembling muscle fibre, fat fibre and blood vessels into a steak-like structure similar to actual meat.

Conventionally, cultured meat companies produce cultured beef by assembling muscle fibres, which is essentially the main part of animal meat.

But animal meat isn’t all about the muscle, with the presences of fat tissues and blood vessels play a role in giving meat that steak-like structure.

For cultured beef, creating a steak with a composition and a structure similar to real steak still remains a challenge, which involve fat cells and aligning muscle cells together.

Wagyu has a marbling structure due to its fat composition. So, we wanted to construct a structured wagyu beef similar to the actual wagyu beef by assembling three types of bovine cell fibers (muscle, fat, and vessel​),” said Professor Michiya Matsusaki from the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University.

‘Big gap’ to address: Ajinomoto and Meiji call for harmonised and collaborative food regulations to tackle malnutrition

Japanese F&B giants Ajinomoto and Meiji have called for more harmonised food regulations planned in collaboration with the food industry address local malnutrition problems as well as ‘big gaps’ with international standards.

Both Ajinomoto and Meiji were amongst the world’s Top 25 food and beverage companies analysed by the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) in the latest Global Access to Nutrition Index 2021.

This assessed key pillars such as nutrition strategy, reformulation and fortification, healthy product accessibility and affordability, labelling and nutritional health claims, and more.

Meiji ranked twelfth this year, leaping by five spots after a large leap in scoring from 0.8 in the previous 2018 index to 3.1 this year, whereas Ajinomoto ranked fourteenth after improving from a score of 2.4 in 2018 to 3.0 this year. The average overall score was 3.6.

One small step to space food production: Japan seeks firms to develop regenerative food supply system for space exploration

The Japanese government is searching for food firms and other institutions with the technology and insights to develop a regenerative food supply system for astronauts participating in the upcoming international space exploration program, the Artemis Program.

The Artemis Program is an international programme headed by the United States, and Japan announced last year that it will be participating in this programme which aims to return humans to the surface of the moon by 2024. It would be the first manned lunar landing mission since Apollo 17 back in 1972.

“In order for human beings to stay and work in outer space for a prolonged time [to carry out the mission objectives of] the Artemis Program, it is important to develop a practical space food solution to support this,”​ Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) announced via a formal statement.

External collaboration: Kirin adds 10 new immune products containing award-winning Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma

Kirin Holdings, winner of the NutraIngredients-Asia 2021 Immune Support Product of the Year Award, has added 10 new products containing its proprietary Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma (L. lactis strain Plasma) for immune function, bringing the total number of SKUs to 26.

Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma (L. lactis​ strain Plasma) is Kirin's proprietary functional ingredient backed by research to support maintenance of the immune system by stimulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells.

L. lactis​ strain Plasma is the key ingredient in Kirin’s iMUSE range of supplements, yoghurt and beverages, which is Japan’s first-ever brand registered as a Food with Functional Claim for immune function.

The newly added 10 products include supplements, milk tea, green tea, throat lozenges, chocolates, and jellies.

Quirky innovation: Nissin creates dual flavoured cup noodles and soda series to mark 50th year

Japanese cup noodle pioneers Nissin is launching dual-flavoured products that can also be washed down with a cup-noodle flavoured soda range, as it marks the brand’s 50th anniversary this year.

The dual-flavoured cup noodle is a four-product series, combining two core flavours in one, and marketed under the Cup Noodle Super Combined brand.

Haruka Aoki, chief of corporate communication at Nissin Foods Holdings, told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “Over the years, we have released numerous variations of cup noodles, but since this year marks the brand’s 50th​ anniversary, we wanted our consumers to see the eight core flavour profiles of the cup noodles line in a whole new light​.

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