Supermarkets are evolving their sushi ranges to embrace the latest trends and techniques.
Emmanuel Letellier, founder of sushi trainers Your Sushi School, said he had seen interest from supermarkets and their suppliers over recent months as they looked to develop their offers. There had been a shift away from fish-based sushi in favour of ‘European-style’ dishes, he said.
The move was in line with Mintel research that found 31% of restaurant-goers who ate ethnic food were not interested in Japanese cuisine, with raw fish a “considerable deterrent” for some.
Among the techniques Letellier had been showing retailers was the use of alternatives to nori seaweed as a wrapping, such as soy paper in a range of colours, and new methods to colour rice.
Supermarkets were also looking to close the gap between restaurant and retail sushi. “In a restaurant setting, sushi rice is coated with rice vinegar, salt and a lot of sugar. When refrigerated, as it is in supermarkets, the sugar hardens and dries the rice out - hence the current intensive use of soy sauce.”
Oriental food supplier Tazaki Foods said retailers’ interest in Japanese products has been boosted by the growing number of restaurants and high street chains selling Japanese food. Among the company’s recent roll-outs was its Yutaka-branded sushi kit to Sainsbury’s, alongside yuzu juice - a Japanese citrus juice that can used to make marinades and had been proving popular with TV chefs.
In September, Tazaki rolled out 500g packs of frozen edamame beans - often served as an accompaniment to sushi - to 200 Waitrose stores. Morrisons rolled out new own-label sushi two months ago while Tiger Tiger has launched a Japanese food range into Tesco and Asda. The Co-op plans to relaunch its sushi range next year.