Lecture by Mr. Hiroshi Umemoto, General Manager of the Foreign Administration Department of Kikkoman Corporation

2022/01/14 14:44

Lecture by Mr. Hiroshi Umemoto, General Manager of the Foreign Administration Department of Kikkoman Corporation

SDGs Course Taught by Visiting Lecturers

Mr. Hiroshi Umemoto, General Manager of the Foreign Administration Department of Kikkoman Corporation, gave a lecture to IBSP students at Soka University on December 22, 2021.

At the beginning of the speech, Mr. Umemoto introduced himself, including his 5-year experience at a subsidiary in Germany serving the European market. After that, he went into the main subject of the lecture and talked about Kikkoman's development and overseas expansion, and the factors that made it possible, by dividing the whole lecture into the following five topics: 1) Basic information of Kikkoman Corporation, 2) History of Kikkoman, 3) Diversification Strategy of Kikkoman, 4) Internationalization Strategy of Kikkoman, and 5) Corporate Citizenship.

Kikkoman's soy sauce production can be traced back to the Edo period, but the modern carnation started in 1917 in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, with the merger of eight family-based brewers with different guiding principles. It is a well-known fact that Kikkoman's soy sauce has developed into a national brand in Japan and has gained the top share in the domestic soy sauce market. However, Kikkoman did not settle for it and become complacent and has been diversifying in the domestic market. For example, Kikkoman quickly responded to the westernization of Japanese food culture and changes in the social environment, entered the processed tomato products, wine, and soymilk businesses, and is now diversifying with five brand systems.

Internationalization has been promoted with diversification. Kikkoman’s internationalization started from North America, and now has eight production sites around the world. Kikkoman’s products are expanding from soy sauce to teriyaki sauce and gluten-free and low-salt products. The key to overseas expansion is to experience local ingredients, cuisine, and food culture and to provide new deliciousness and value. In other words, Kikkoman’s attempts to localize soy sauce played an important role in the acceptance of its soy sauce in various parts of the world. As powerful supports for overseas expansion, Mr. Umemoto emphasized the following two points: “1) advanced technical capabilities for producing high-quality soy sauce under varying environmental conditions, and 2) a business model that fuses local food culture encounters with the provision of a new deliciousness”.
At the end of the lecture, Mr. Umemoto mentioned corporate civic activities. He introduced the philosophy that supports Kikkoman’s actions as a public entity, which is “we aim to be a company that is valued around the world”. Kikkoman contributes to society through activities such as food education, local contribution (development of environment-conscious business activities, donations to local educational institutions, and so forth), and promotion of international exchange.

The excerpts of comments from the student attendees are as follows.

“It was indeed a great learning experience. His knowledge is vast in terms of how a homemade recipe is leading in the world and generating profits worldwide. It also gave me an understanding that how to launch local products globally, the marketing strategies used for the product are amazing and it helped me a lot to understand global business strategies, also how important it is to stick to the companies mission and vision statements which helps in generating trust in consumers.”

“Overall the entire lecture was great and insightful and it will really help us in the future.”

“It helped me to know about the Japanese traditional soy sauce company. The strategy of soy sauce let me rethink if I want to create a product, what I should prepare first.”
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