＜Note the following about VEGHEET＞
– Made exclusively of off-spec vegetables and agar-agar.
– Provides more nutrients than vegetables eaten as they are.
– Can be stored for up to five years and is attracting attention as emergency food.
Discovering vegetable sheets
Soda used to be a salesman for a securities company. When his father, a food wholesaler in his hometown of Hirado, became ill, he made a U-turn and searched for a new business opportunity.
“While researching Hirado’s industrial and population structure at the city office, I realized the need for a manufacturing business. During one of my trips to food production sites across Japan, I discovered a vegetable sheet, which later became VEGHEET, at a leading seaweed factory in Kumamoto Prefecture.”
Their approach resonated with Soda, who later took over the business, started it in his hometown, and improved the product’s taste and nutritional value with a new production method. The current VEGHEET was born after 20 years of hard work.
Vegetable sheets are packed with umami and nutrients
VEGHEET is a food sheet made of dried vegetable paste, free of additives and artificial seasonings. The sheets are packed with the umami and nutrients of vegetables such as carrots, daikon, pumpkins, and tomatoes and are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, and carotene. They are a more efficient source of nutrients than eating vegetables as they are.
Their crispy texture and safety for children and older adults also make them appealing. It can be enjoyed in various ways, from nibbling as is to wrapping it around a rice ball or melting it to make vegetable soup or jelly.
VEGHEET is also attracting attention as emergency food as sheets can be stored for extended periods at room temperature.From the time of development, the product could be stored for two years, but disaster prevention products utilizing high-performance packaging can be stored for up to five years, and because they are thin and light, making them convenient for storing in an emergency rucksack.
Sourcing discarded vegetables to eliminate food waste and support farmers
“VEGHEET is made of off-spec vegetables that would otherwise be thrown away. ”
Soda explains, “When I saw many fine carrots being discarded in local fields and asked farmers to sell them to me at a discount, they were initially reluctant to take up the offer. But I didn’t give up, and after many visits to the farms with my boots on, they began to talk to me about the woes and joys of farming. Even the vegetables that ended up as waste were grown with great care by everyone, so it was wrong for me to try to buy them cheaply. So, I made it a new source of income for them by purchasing large quantities of discarded vegetables for a reasonable price.”
If the current set-up continues to wear out farmers, vegetables could disappear from Japan down the road. The VEGHEET business also supports farmers in their efforts to farm profitably.
I want to end the world's food crisis
VEGHEET has won several awards in Japan and has been featured in various media outlets. It is sold in Japan through e-commerce shops, supermarkets nationwide, and 100 yen Daiso shops. However, it is also gaining much attention overseas due to heightened food waste awareness. With a view to global expansion going forward, Soda plans to set up a factory in Indonesia, which has fertile soil, to start growing organic vegetables. VEGHEET is turned into sheets by evaporating the water content of the vegetables, whereby reducing the volume and weight while minimizing logistics costs.
“It would be great from a food-mileage perspective if organic vegetables grown in Indonesia could be made into VEGHEET and marketed in Europe and the United States. The main objective for me to continue my business is to rid the world of food crises, hunger, and poverty,” says Soda emphatically.
The 0.1 mm thin VEGHEET was packed with endless potential, far beyond what we could have imagined.