At one time in Vancouver, tofu was only eaten in Asian households and restaurants, later expanding to health-food circles.
But with heightened interest in plant-based diets—due to concerns ranging from climate and animal welfare to health—soy-based products have increasingly moved mainstream and continue to gain popularity.
Locally, a company that’s been a part of that momentum over the past few decades is expanding even further in preparation to meet current and future consumer demand.
Vancouver-based Sunrise Soya Foods had humble beginnings when Leslie and Susan Joe made tofu in their kitchen to sell at their family-run grocery store, Sunrise Market, in Chinatown in 1956.
The popularity of their tofu within the Chinese Canadian community eventually gave rise to Sunrise Soya Foods, which began selling in health food stores in the '70s and the company opened its first manufacturing plant at 729 Powell Street in 1983.
They later expanded by opening a second manufacturing plant in Toronto in 2002.
Sunrise is now launching their third manufacturing plant, which will be its largest at 85,000 square feet, located at 7808 Beedie Way in Delta.
The company's communications representative Irene Lo told the Georgia Straight that the new location will have 30 staff members but will continue to grow, and that the company will celebrate its official opening on Tuesday (September 24).
Sunrise’s products, which are naturally gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and use non-GMO soy beans, includes tofu available in consistencies ranging from soft to extra-firm, with organic (known as Soyganic) equivalents. Flavoured tofus include dessert tofus, with flavours ranging from almond to peach mango, and smoked tofu, as a vegan alternative to meat or cheese products.
Their products can be found at major grocery chains across Canada, with some availability in the U.S. in the Pacific Northwest and the Eastern Seaboard as well.