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Tofu Production Market Overview

Currently, a variety of healthy eating systems are generating increasing attention and interest.

Of course, in Western countries this process began a little earlier, and proceeds a little faster than ours, however, we can safely say that soon a full-fledged market for healthy food products will appear in Russia. One of the main products of various healthy food systems is soy in general, and products using soy in particular.

In our country, the attitude towards such products is rather negative: for a long time, soy was used to make ersatz products: it was added to sausages, dairy and other products, which could not but affect the reputation of soybeans. However, lately, soya has risen in price a bit and is gradually disappearing from products where its presence is not provided for by production technology: competition among food producers is too high and quality control conditions have improved (both from state and public supervisors in the field of consumption). This is what gives the right to argue that soy products are the basis of the future market of healthy nutrition in Russia.

However, it is impossible to say that there is absolutely no market for soy products now: apart from popular Japanese and Chinese restaurants and other catering establishments, where soy and its derivatives are widely used, there is also a segment of the vegetarian market and the market for healthy food itself. So there are no sales problems with manufacturers of soy products.

Another thing is that all these manufacturers in the vast majority are foreign organizations. This is explained by the fact that soy is an atypical culture for Russia (soybean production is quite small and in some cases does not even provide for the domestic market), as well as the fact that there is some dominance of Chinese and Japanese (less often - western) producers.

But this is not a problem - the local manufacturer will always have advantages over the foreign one: it will also have a deeper knowledge of the market and a more sensitive reaction to changes in demand and market trends, and the absence of transport costs and customs duties to be included in the selling price. One can safely say that the production of soy products is very promising, and like any food production, it is a profitable business.

However, the question arises: what kind of product to produce? Or produce the entire range at once?

The answer is simple. The fact is that soy production in this particular respect is very flexible: directly from soybeans on the same equipment (except in several cases with the installation of appropriate extensions, but without major investments and installing extensions to existing lines, rather than purchase of a new line) you can cook almost the entire range of soy products, not excluding complex ones.

One of the most interesting, both in terms of production (ie, cost-effective and low-cost), and in food, is the production of tofu, which is sometimes mistakenly called "soy cheese" or "bean curd."

Tofu production technology

No wonder tofu is considered soy cheese: its production is in many ways similar to the production of this product. The fact is that tofu is made from "soy milk" - a specific drink based on white soybeans using almost the same technology as cheese made from milk.

Modern tofu production lines have a function of stopping production at the milk stage - that is, you can just make soy milk, or you can make tofu from it. This makes tofu production so attractive: in fact, acquiring one line, you will get not even two, but as many as three products - along with soybean meal (the so-called okara), production waste, which is also used as feed for farm animals so for cooking human food.

So, for starters, it’s worth a brief look at the process of making soy milk as the basis for tofu. It can be divided into 6 main stages, including packaging (bottling in some kind of container).

At the first stage, soybeans are cleaned and rinsed and foreign impurities, stones, etc., if any, are separated.

Next, grinding is performed on a grinding machine, although in some enterprises this procedure is usually omitted when preparing soy milk.

This is followed by washing the beans in water.

All of the above procedures are performed on special devices that are not part of the tofu production line - the fact is that the usually purchased soybean is already processed in this way - the exception is only that part that is purchased directly from the producer - agribusinesses or farmers (although the first can cleanse soybeans before implementation).

At the second stage, the beans are soaked - soybeans are soaked in cold water (water temperature about 15-20 degrees) for about 10-12 hours. The colder the water, the longer it takes to soak, however, using warm, and even more hot water is not allowed by technology - then you get boiled or just boiled soy porridge.

The third technological process is the grinding of swollen soybeans to a state of more or less homogeneous (homogeneous) mass and the addition of water to it. To prevent the formation of lumps (caking) during bulk industrial production, a special substance is added that prevents the formation of clots - a kind of vegetable solvent.

Further, in the digester, the resulting mass is cooked, which is the fourth stage of production.

After cooking, using a pressing machine, soy milk is separated from an insoluble solid mass - okara, which is also a by-product food product, albeit a by-product.

At the last, sixth stage, the finished soy milk is packaged or put into further processing (in this case, into tofu).

Tofu production can also be divided into five technological steps (including packaging).

The first of these is the addition of a coagulant (usually magnesium chloride (MgCL 2 + 6H2O) to chilled soy milk. The coagulant helps to curdle and solidify it.

The resulting mixture is heated evenly (avoiding boiling) until it solidifies, which is the second stage of production. Do not allow soy milk to boil. After solidification, re-cooling in clean cold water is performed. Further actions depend on the type of tofu produced.

The fact is that tofu production is subdivided into two types - “linen”, more stringent, reminiscent of cottage cheese and “silk” in consistency - somewhat softer than the previous one, more like soft varieties of cheese like cheese and the like: in fact, trade names “ soy cheese "and" bean curd "occurred precisely because of this similarity.

By default, the output is “plain” tofu, and to obtain a “silk” tofu, you should grind and re-form a “plain” tofu - it will become somewhat softer and more pliable. Actually the third stage - grinding and shaping exists only in the production of "silk" tofu.

The formation is carried out by mechanical pressing, accompanied by the removal of excess fluid from the product. "Linen" tofu is also pressed, but weaker and without preliminary grinding - just to remove excess fluid.

Then follows the cutting step - cutting the resulting shapeless blocks into briquettes, and the plain tofu, as hard enough, is cut into tiles of the right size as is, and the softer silk tofu is cut in a tank with cold water.

The last step in the production of tofu is its packaging, and the "silk" is stored in a container under a layer of water - pure or salted (sweetened), depending on further use.

Tofu production facilities, personnel and equipment

The production of tofu (and related soy products) refers to food production, therefore, compliance with not only the current construction, but also sanitary norms and rules is mandatory and will be monitored by the relevant (sanitary and epidemiological) regional and state bodies.

According to the current legislation, in addition to standard building standards, the following sanitary standards should be adhered to: SanPiN 08/18/2019.548-96 "Hygienic requirements for the microclimate of industrial premises" and SP 18.08.2019.1327-03 "Hygienic requirements for the organization of technological processes, production equipment and working tools" ( approved by the Chief State Sanitary Doctor of the Russian Federation on May 23, 2003).

By and large, these requirements are not so complicated and difficulties can arise only when building a production workshop. If the premises are rented, it is easier to find one that is already fully equipped in accordance with the above standards.

But soybean production, especially small and medium ones, wins significantly in production areas: for one apparatus for the production of soybean milk, only 12 square meters are needed. m, the remaining units occupy approximately the same area. So the area occupied by one line does not exceed 25 square meters. m - taking into account the average rented production area of ​​hundreds of "squares", the benefits are obvious.

There are two options for acquiring equipment for the production of tofu: the purchase of an apparatus for the production of milk separately, and the machines necessary for the manufacture of tofu itself (press, cutting machine, grinding equipment, etc.) are random. This option may cost a little cheaper: a milk machine, which is given the nickname “soya cow”, will cost about 100 thousand rubles. Moreover, it is possible to purchase cheaper analogs - both new and old, mainly of domestic assembly.

However, the disadvantage of this method is as follows: at the same time as the "soybean cow", its producer without fail provides technical specifications (TU) for the production of each product - GOST for tofu simply does not exist. Actually, the specifications are instructions that should be followed during production.

Supervisory authorities - consumer supervision, sanitary and epidemiological services, etc. - check the compliance of the product with what is described in the TU. But since in the specifications for the purchased apparatus for the production of soy milk, only one product will be inscribed: soy milk itself, the production of other products will be prohibited, and you will have to draw up TU for tofu and okara separately, which will cost a lot of money, quite comparable to purchase of a ready-made tofu production line with all the necessary documentation.

This option is preferable from the point of view of assembly and docking nodes: if you buy equipment at random, you can also encounter incompatibility problems.

When purchasing ready-made soybean processing lines, you will most likely have to choose only between the Russian and Chinese versions. It should be noted here that these options do not have any advantages in quality.

The Chinese version is somewhat more cumbersome - it covers an area of ​​45 square meters. m; Russian - 30 square meters. m. True, the Chinese counterpart is a bit more powerful (in terms of productivity): its production per hour (in terms of soy milk) is 500 kg, while the Russian capacity is 300 kg per hour.

The Chinese line is also somewhat cheaper - 240, 000 yuan, or about 1175 thousand rubles. against 30800 €, or 1320 thousand rubles. But, despite the apparent profitability of buying Chinese equipment, the Russian one is more convenient in terms of legal requirements: the fact is that the Russian manufacturer provides a package of technical specifications (TU) and technological instructions for the production of soy products, but the Chinese one does not.

In principle, the price difference is quite large - about 150 thousand rubles, saving which you can get the technical specifications for the production of tofu in the relevant Russian state bodies.

Whatever tofu production equipment is chosen, the question of staff remains. As in the case of the acquisition of the Russian and Chinese lines, the number of employees does not change - they only need three per shift, and one of them should be a master technologist who controls the quality of products, and two should be auxiliary workers serving the installation.

For a more rational use of time, as well as to avoid frequent stops and downtime of the equipment, you should work in a three-shift mode (3 shifts of 8 hours, 24 working hours a day, i.e. around the clock).

In principle, it is not at all necessary to hire three professional technologists at once - the company will obviously not start work from a three-shift schedule right away, but in the process of becoming, any person can master the settings of generally primitive equipment for the production of tofu.

However, one should not rely too much on non-professionals: tofu, especially “silk” is a rather “capricious” product in terms of production and the slightest deviation from the technical conditions and instructions can lead to damage to the product. But on the other hand, even with the inevitable mistakes in starting work, an entrepreneur does not lose too much: substandard “silk” tofu is essentially the same “linen”. As you might guess, it costs a little cheaper than “silk”, but, in principle, more than pays for the costs of its production.

Profitability and development prospects of the tofu business

With the cost of dried soybeans about 14-15 thousand rubles. for 1 ton of the cost of tofu (taking into account the average production of 10-11 liters of milk from 1 kg of dried soy and about 130-140 kg of tofu with 1000 liters of soy milk) we get the material cost of tofu in the region of 10-15 rubles. for 1 kg.

The average selling price of imported tofu is from 150 rubles. A few domestic producers (and according to some reports there are less than 1000 “soy cows” in Russia, including low-powered ones - up to 60 liters per hour) offer about the same price. But, as you can see, it is very overpriced.

With proper business management and not stopping at the level of small business - that is, moving into the category of mass industrial production. If you act aggressively enough, including in terms of advertising, then after 5-6 months you can break the breakeven point and start making a profit, and quite a lot by Russian standards.

However, at a certain time, a moment of a marketing crisis may come - everything is explained by the population’s unaccustomedity to soy products and a lack of confidence in soy in general. Solving possible sales problems is quite simple: expanding the assortment - in addition to tofu, the most cost-effective soy product, there is also soy milk; okara; soya minced meat and mayonnaise; condensed soy milk and dried soy milk; soy flour and soybean oil - all this not to mention the famous soy sauce - for example, Japanese "teriyaki" or English Worcestershire.

No less interesting direction can be the organization of vegetarian outlets - for example, where, without exception, all dishes are soy. You can also expand the assortment of tofu itself with various additives that are introduced into the product before pressing - for example, paprika, other seasonings or nuts.

No less promising is the "religious" direction of tofu - because it is suitable for both fasting people and those for whom religious beliefs forbid to eat any product.

Pavel Biryukov

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See also:

tofu production video

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