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[Columns]Traditional and venture healthy food industry is vibrant in Kinan

The healthy food industry is vibrant in Tanabe City and Minabegawa Village, among others, in the Kinan region in Wakayama Prefecture. A fast growth venture making of frozen ""tofu"" (bean curd) and a traditional Japanese producer of ""ume-boshi"" (pickled plums) in Kinan have started shipping the traditional Japanese healthy foodstuffs to the rest of the world. Tendre Corporation in Tanabe City has shattered the common belief that frozen tofu is difficult to make.
Since it was brought from China about 1,000 years ago, tofu has taken hold as a quintessential Japanese dish for ordinary people. Tofu also is a representative healthy food item, since it is rich in quality ingredients such as high protein, lecithin and saponin. It had been said, however, that the scope of its utilization and food sanitation and management is severely limited because it decays easily, falls apart and is difficult to freeze.
Tendre President Hiroaki Iwamoto, who gave up working as a salary earner to manufacture tofu, took on the task of challenging the barrier that had prevented tofu makers from turning out ""frozen tofu."" Noting that tofu makers have to work from early morning and cannot even take days off, Iwamoto said, ""In order to improve such working condition, there is no way but to produce quality frozen tofu capable of preserving flavor and lasting longer."" He started performing an experiment on frozen tofu around 1987. After undergoing trials and errors since then, he succeeded in producing fine frozen tofu by mixing natural materials (classified corporate confidential) with soybean milk in the process of making bean curd. Frozen tofu retains its protein makeup, stays virtually the same and remains tasty just as any other normal tofu when it is defrosted.