The use of wasabi, a spicy Japanese horseradish, as a flavouring in food products outside Asia has risen in recent years, according to the food and beverage online tracking site, Innova Database.
The launch of products using wasabi as an ingredient has more than quadrupled over the past five years to 220 in the 12 months ending September 2010. Europe and the USA accounted for nearly 90 per cent of the total, with European markets accounting for 48 per cent.
According to the Database, the use of wasabi outside its home market of Japan has been facilitated by its use in Japanese restaurants, where it is often served with sushi or sashimi.
A review of the use of wasabi in new product by the Innova Database showed that the key application areas of wasabi include sauces, seasonings and snacks. This varies from region to region, with sauces and seasonings accounting for over 40 per cent of US launches in the year ending September 2010 and snacks taking another 30 per cent. In Europe, snacks accounted for more than 55 per cent of launches, with sauces and seasonings on less than 17 per cent.
In Europe, the UK and Germany lead in terms of numbers of wasabi-flavoured products launched. Launches in 2010 included a Fresh Beetroot Soup with Lime, Ginger and Wasabi from Yorkshire Provender as part of its chilled soups range and a Pea & Wasabi Dip from UK retailer Marks & Spencer. Now in 2018 Wasabi is claimed to be in nearly everything on the store shelves. The upsetting thing is that what is on offer is either mustard or horseradish flavour.
The question here is are they using True Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) in their products or the coloured horseradish. I suspect that it is the latter although I haven’t managed to get any to taste or even view as yet.
It looks as though the 27 years of promotion by New Zealand Wasabi of True Wasabi into the USA and Europe might finally be making an impact. They still appear to be the only company to offer a 100% Pure Wasabi Powder.
Republished Feb 2018.
Originally Posted 2010.