The certification program of Japanese Food and Ingredient Supporter Stores Overseas
Interview of Suppoter Stores TOYO FOODS, PROVIDENCIA
Japanese Food Ingredients Store that Provides “The feeling of Touching Another part of the World”
Guadalajara / Mexico
Japanese Food Store that Attracts Mexican Customers with Wide Variety of Items
TOYO FOODS is a popular Japanese grocery store frequently visited by both Japanese people living in Mexico and Mexican locals. The store is operated by Comercial TOYO headquartered in Zapopan City in the state of Jalisco. TOYO FOODS has 35 Business-to-Consumer sales outlets in Mexico with a total number of 50 sales basis including warehouses. They handle more than 4,000 items, and its shelves are filled with popular Japanese consumer products, such as soy sauce and mirin. The store sells a wide variety of Japanese seasonings, as well as confectionery products, beverages and utensils imported from Japan. Nowadays, they also self-developed homemade bread that uses 100% Japanese wheat flour, soy sauce and seasonings to sell it at the shop.
“When we make a purchase choice, we always consider not only the taste, but also the price, and packaging. We always seriously consider whether our Mexican customers will actually pick them up and buy them” says Ms. Tomoko Kamata from Comercial TOYO. “Japanese Sake has finally been recognized in Mexico and its sales are increasing. Yuzu and green tea flavored products are popular among young Mexicans. Our main target customers are Mexicans. We want to continue to discover and carry products that Mexican people will buy” says Kamata.
We Want to Offer the “Feeling of Touching Another Part of the World”
“Although the number of Mexican tourists visiting Japan has increased in recent years, for most Mexicans, Japan is still far away and expensive. For them, Japan is both physically and psychologically distant. We want to make them feel as if they were away from their daily routine and in another part of the world”, says Kamata with a smile. She continued, “We think that our customers can buy Japanese food ingredients online any time they want, so TOYO is more interested in designing and creating shops that offer our customers fun experiences and leave them feeling that every time they visit our stores their quality of life is enhanced by the opportunity to touch another world”.
TOYO FOODS established its position as a great example of Business-to-Consumer Japanese food grocery store in Mexico, but they’ve had to come a long way. “To encourage Mexican people to buy Japanese food items and to prepare Japanese food at home, employees from our headquarters work daily in an effort to reach out to them by visiting stores and talking directly to the customers about our products. Later, we started providing Japanese recipes as well, so that, Japanese food has gradually become a part of Mexican life”, she says.
Promoting Japanese food ingredients for a long period of time is finally bearing fruit, however new challenge arises. Recently the more Mexican people learned about Japanese food rapidly the more requests for other products arise. “The other day one of our Mexican customers bought Yuba (soy milk skin) and Mozuku (alga-like seaweed). We are not satisfied with the approximately 4,000 products we handle, we are constantly working on increasing our customers’ satisfaction by quickly spreading within ourselves those products’ knowledge that our customers want”, she says.
To Be a Reliable Partner for All of Those Who Seek Japanese Food and Those Who are Involved in Japanese Food
TOYO FOODS is importing not only Japanese sake and shochu, but also handles Japanese beer. It is planning to try at selling Japanese wine and whiskey in the future. The number of products they handle in the food industry is increasing every year, and TOYO FOODS plans to stock more dedicated products that are “not easily available even in Japan”.
TOYO FOODS launched their own EC website to expand their sales channel, and it is strategically expanding the sales areas in Mexico by increasing the number of sales outlets. Each year, more and more Mexican people are cooking Japanese food at home and the demand for Japanese tableware and related utensil sales are rising.
“We would like to be the first company that comes to the mind of Japanese food and beverage manufacturers when they want to sell their products in Mexico, not to mention Japanese tableware craftsmen who want to export their products to other countries. Also, we want to contribute to the development of Japanese restaurant owners in Mexico and major supermarkets that want to sell Japanese food ingredients and beverages. In our company, we are always discussing ways to meet all the needs of those who are involved in Japanese food in Mexico keeping in mind “to be the last mile for the customer”. We aim to become the company that people who want Japanese food and those who are involved in Japanese food, love and depend on”, Kamata answered our question with determination in her eyes.