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Azuma Foods: Combining East and West

Feb 21, 2020
Credit : GMI Post


Thirty years since setting up its first overseas operation in California, Japanese food manufacturer Azuma Foods now has a customer roster of 300 companies, which include some of America’s largest retailers like Costco and Whole Foods.

Azuma Foods President and CEO Takahiro Tamura

“We chose California as our first entry into the U.S. because of its location, convenience and low utility costs. Our target market is more high-end, where quality is very important. And our customer knows that our food has good quality,” said Azuma Foods International Inc. USA President and CEO Takahiro Tamura, who has overseen the company since the start.

As Japanese food becomes more popular in the United States, Azuma Foods has played a huge role in educating the American market about Japanese food and culture. To localize its business, it has also introduced fusion products to cater to American tastes.

“While we manufacture Japanese products, what we really do is use Japanese ideas, technology and flavor. We mix the very traditional way of making our products, while developing different flavor profiles suited for the market,” Tamura said.

As sustainability and health have become more important to American consumers, Azuma Foods has also made products that are low-calorie, gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher.

“Because of the way we have been doing our business since the beginning, we are pushing a lot of limits in terms of quality. We have obtained several certifications and our programs have continuously evolved. We have a large quality control staff who work continuously to ensure we stay ahead of compliance,” Corporate Administrator Director Daniel Mazzei said.

Looking to its future in the United States, Azuma Foods remains committed to provide quality foods and ingredients to the market, while adapting quickly to an ever-evolving industry. 


ShoEi Foods USA: Shelling out excellence in Northern California

Feb 21, 2020
Credit : GMI Post


A trip across the state of California will reveal the diversity of its agricultural products, with its being fruits, grains and nuts. In 1985, Japan-based ShoEi Foods Corporation established an American subsidiary in Oregon, ShoEi Foods USA Inc., to source American food ingredients.

ShoEi Foods USA is an authentic farm-to-table food exporter to Japan with its own orchards located in the fertile Sacramento Valley of California.

Then, in 1990, it purchased a 1,000-acre prune processing facility and ranch near Olivehurst in the Sacramento Valley, which was converted into a walnut processing facility in 2009 when ShoEi Foods USA and Sunsweet Growers began a partnership to grow and process prunes in Yuba City.

Over the past 10 years, ShoEi Foods USA’s walnut business has grown large enough to meet rising demand from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the USA. Adopting high Japanese-quality standards, ShoEi’s walnuts have gained recognition as among the best in the world.

As the first company to bring many of California’s agriculture products into Japan, ShoEi Foods is the only true farm-to-table food importer in the Japanese market.

“Our global customers benefit from our efforts to exceed the standards for imported produce to Japan, which famously demand perfection. As a top-tier packer, we have tasked ourselves with producing the best quality. We hold ourselves responsible for the brand image of the entire walnut industry both locally and internationally, especially in Japan,” ShoEi Foods USA President and CEO Brian Dunning said.

“We also want to highlight walnuts as a great source for omega-3 fatty acids and encourage the public to look at walnuts as a healthy snack option. We can only do that if we use the best technology and techniques in our commitment to excellence,” Dunning added.


Tejava® tea by Crystal Geyser Water Company: A natural choice for the American market

Feb 21, 2020
Credit : GMI Post


Northern California is a well-established source of the world’s finest products and services, as the region’s demographic diversity and progressive culture allow companies to test the viability of their products.

Such is the story of Tejava, the first brand of unsweetened tea in the United States marketed by Crystal Geyser Water Company, and owned by Japan’s Otsuka Pharmaceutical.

Tejava Origins uses only organic teas from the best-growing regions around the world.

“Thirty years ago, the owner of Otsuka Pharmaceutical noticed that Americans consumed poor quality tea, loaded with sugar. He wanted to offer healthier, better-quality options,” President and CEO Yasumasa Iwamoto said.

Initially launched as Java Tea in Japan, Tejava is a brand made exclusively for the American market. The name reflects its master brewer’s commitment to using only the best tea from Java, Indonesia.

Having achieved steady growth in California, Tejava is expanding across the U.S. It is sold nationally at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, as well as at regional giants like Albertson-Safeway in Chicago and Texas.

“We’re taking a novel approach to expanding Tejava. While we are increasing share in traditional retail channels, we are also growing in online and non-grocery channels, like Ace Hardware and corporate cafeterias like LinkedIn,” Iwamoto said.

Recognizing consumer demand for variety, the company now offers Tejava Origins, a line of unsweetened, organic teas picked from the best-growing regions around the world in green, oolong, jasmine, Earl Grey and honeybush varieties.

“For us, there is no end in sight and there is no stopping us.  We believe in our products and will keep working to share it with as many consumers as possible,” Iwamoto said.

Northern California 2020 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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