Tofu shortages have been spreading across parts of Eastern Canada as demand for plant-based diets surge.

At one Montreal supermarket, interest appeared to jump after the release of Health Canada’s latest Food Guide, which emphasized plant-based proteins such as beans, nuts and pulses.

“A lot of people are getting more educated,” said Supermarché PA manager Nick Lup.

Quebec might be the hardest hit of all provinces by a shortage, according to Nielsen market research data. The province has long been one of the biggest consumers of tofu products, with some 26 per cent of Quebecers eating it on a regular basis. Just 16 per cent enjoy tofu elsewhere in the country.

Sales data suggests those numbers could be on the rise too. “Sales of tofu have increased by almost 20 per cent every year for the last five, six years,” said Sylvain Charlebois, Dalhousie University professor of food distribution and policy. “We don’t see how this will slow down anytime soon.”

Quebec’s largest tofu producers are struggling to meet demand. Unisoya and Soyarie are working on increasing production by expanding factories, but Unisoya told CTV Montreal that they won’t be selling to big chains like Costco and Provigo until that process is complete. Smaller stores like Lup’s may continue to be more well-stocked during a shortage than some of Quebec’s bigger stores.

“Grocery chains tend to demand a lot of product,” said Charlebois. “When there are back orders it will affect several stores at once.”