We asked our CEO Tsuyosi Ide how he got himself into the soybean business, why he founded DAIZ and where the company name came from.
Founder and CEO (President)
Tsuyoshi Ide, who founded DAIZ Corporation Inc. in October 2017, is a serial entrepreneur best known for having founded Transgenic Inc., one of the largest bio-pharmaceutical consulting companies in Japan. After graduating from Doshisha University with a bachelor’s degree in Political science in 1986, he first worked for Shikibo Lifetech, where he met his future wife, Ayako Takashima. He created Transgenic in 1997 – which went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Mothers in 2002 – before founding Kajitsudo Ltd., which has since become Japan’s largest organic vegetable company with investment from the country’s leading corporations, including Mitsui, Kagome and Toyota.
Why did you start DAIZ?
When you look at the global production and consumption of soybeans, two things are clear. First, Japan is the biggest consumer of soybeans by far among all countries. Soybeans and rice have always been the major sources of carbohydrates in the Japanese diet.
Secondly, soybean is such an important commodity for Japan’s food industry – just as important as semiconductors are for the tech industry. It’s used to make so many different products, including tofu, soy milk, natto, soy sauce, miso, oil and emulsifiers. But despite the country’s heavy reliance on soybeans, Japan ranks among the lowest globally in terms of soy production. I thought this is a big problem and wanted to find an innovative solution.
What challenges did you have to overcome in launching the business?
Many products use additives, such as isoflavones, saponins, oligosaccharides that are the functional components of soybeans. Tsuji Oil’s lecithin is also popular. Some people told me that research on soybean’s functionality had already been exhausted, and that there isn’t room left for startups to enter the market.
That’s when I met Mr. Koji Ochiai, who is now a CTO of DAIZ. His startup was built on his soybean research, and what he told me totally opened my eyes.
He said, "Don't look at soybeans as grains. Focus on soybeans that have just sprouted. The plant’s DNA would have kicked in, and the metabolic chain reactions would be in full motion. These soybeans present very different functionalities, compared to their dry ‘grain’ counterparts. What you see will surprise you.”
And I saw with my own eyes how sprouted soybeans produce so many compounds.
Mr. Ochiai demonstrated that following germination, there is a brief period in which external stimuli can cause surges in metabolic activities in soybeans. This is similar to how human ES cells react to external stimuli.
Mr. Ochiai and I immediately began working together to make commercial products using this technology. After some discussions, we decided it’d be best if I formed a new company and have Mr. Ochiai join us as the director.
What’s the mission of DAIZ?
We need to eradicate hunger worldwide, and we want DAIZ to be part of the solution to accomplish that. By 2050, the world population is projected to surpass 10 billion. We will need more than beef, pork, poultry and seafood from which to source protein in order to feed that big a population. That’s where soybeans, the “meat of the field,” come in. The Ochiai Germination Method can significantly boost soybeans’ nutritional values. The method also drastically increases the glutamate content of soybeans, enhancing the taste.
The great thing about Ochiai germination method is that it enables us to create soybeans that taste just like beef, pork, fish, etc. by adjusting the level of amino acid composition. We can do this because we use live sprouted beans. And it’s not just the taste; the nutritional values of soybeans are also similar to those of animal and fish proteins. We use 100% non-GMO soybeans, and nothing will be wasted in the production process. This is the reason we call it MIRACLE MEAT.
These flavors and nutrition are within the soybeans themselves. That’s the difference that sets DAIZ’s products apart from other companies’ plant-based meat alternatives, including some American startups’ novel products, and conventional soybean oils that have flavors and nutrients added to them.
We are hoping to bring our proprietary, “only-in-the-world” product to the global market.
DAIZ provides in-house product testing and manufacturing and aims to expand our technology to the world through our products, such as Miracle burger patties, Miracle chicken meat, Miracle canned tuna, Miracle gyoza, etc.
Our newest proposal – EMPF (Egg, Milk, Powder, and Feed) – is a research project based on the Ochiai Germination Method. This project aims to reduce environmental impact and will achieve numerous of the Sustainable Development Goals.
And our second step will be drug discovery. We discovered more than 30,000 unknown phytoalexins (secondary metabolites such as isoflavones) in the soybeans that we “stressed” in certain ways using the Ochiai Germination Method. These phytoalexins have unique, complex structures and high functionality, which make them useful compounds. In collaboration with an AI startup from MIT, Kyoto University and the Cancer Research Institute (Ariake Hospital), we are currently conducting a comprehensive study to find a wide range of novel phytoalexins, including those from seeds other than soybeans, and to determine their structures. The study also includes docking simulations with the use of artificial intelligence (AI). It is our hope to compile as many as 100 million pieces of discovered information and make it available for use by major pharmaceutical companies. We believe before long, we will begin using soybeans and other seeds to produce novel drugs.
What’s in the name of DAIZ?
The company’s name, "DAIZ," comes from the Japanese words, “soybean,” and “Artificial Intelligence.” The name reflects our great desire to bring our novel soybeans from Japan to the world to provide quality nutritious foods to people around the globe.