Otsuka People Talk

General Manager,
Nutrition & Nature,
Soy Product Creator in Europe

After becoming an attorney specializing in business law, He became interested in organic and other natural food products. He first encountered tofu dishes in the United States in the 1970s, and traveled to different places to learn. Then, he launched the first tofu and soy business in France for the European market.

In collaboration with NHK Enterprises, Inc.

April 2014

From a business lawyer to a tofu crafter

It all began in the 70s, I became vegetarian at that time, and I learned through books and readings, I heard about tofu, and I decided to make some tofu in my kitchen, as it was not possible to find any tofu in any shops.

I had no technical background in this field, because basically I studied law, and I was specialized in business law. And I worked a few years in France, and I decided to go to the United States for a longer time, to learn how to make tofu and miso.

Reasons for creating soy products

It is not easy to introduce tofu in Europe or in France, because we have no reference. When French people see a piece of tofu, it looks like cheese, but it is not cheese. And we don't have this notion of "neutral taste,” you may have in Japan concerning tofu. But, it means that they are not attracted by this. So we need to introduce tofu and soy foods in different recipes as an ingredient. And that’s why we mix tofu with vegetables, herbs and spices, to give tofu taste and make it delicious for people to eat.

Once customers discover they can make it, then they can create good recipes and make new associations with other kind of foods. So it is really a problem of communication and information, and it takes time. But once people discover what tofu is, and it's good for you and tastes good, they will go further. It is really interesting to see the changes in the last few years.