As this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games gets closer, Calon Wen, a Welsh farmers’ co-operative based in Pembrokeshire supplying milk, butter and cheese, has already secured a gold medal position by being the only European cheese certified as organic by the Japanese Government.
Calon Wen, a group of 25 organic family run farms across Wales which produce organic dairy products sustainably, has been exporting its products to Asia with the help of the Mineichi Group since 2017. Riding the wave of the Rugby World Cup 2019, which was hosted in Japan, Calon Wen and Mineichi saw the opportunity to venture into the Japanese market.
Stuart McNally, Calon Wen’s Business Development and Sales Manager explains how they secured their deals in the land of the rising sun, “During the BlasCymru/TasteWales event in March 2019, we were able to connect and create leads with some Japanese customers, while mapping out strategies to venture into the market side by side. Then from September 2019, Calon Wen’s retail stockists in Japan began expanding gradually. They are now available at around 100 locations and online. As well as supplying retailers directly, Calon Wen products are also distributed by major Japanese dairy products traders that distribute to supermarkets and various major department stores.
“However, since the summer of 2020, the Japanese authority revised the regulation regarding imported organic products and any products branded as ‘organic’ must now obtain Japan’s organic JAS certification, and label it with the certified JAS mark on the packaging.
“A year later and with support from the Welsh Government’s Tokyo office, Calon Wen became the first European dairy brand to be JAS certified. JAS certified Calon Wen products have since secured many more listings at a tremendous speed.
“Our future plans include expanding stockists to over 120 stores in Japan within 2021, introducing new products of Calon Wen to strengthen the brand and introducing other Welsh brands and products in partnership for example Tan y Castell Welsh Cakes and much more.”
Since September 2019, Calon Wen has been expanding in Japan, with now around 100 locations and online stocking its products. As well as directly supplying to retailers, Calon Wen products are also distributed by major Japanese dairy products traders ‘Morinaga’, ‘Mitsubishi’, and ‘Kokubu’ who distribute to supermarkets and major department stores in Japan.
Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths said: “Securing new export markets, as well as maintaining and building on current ones, is crucial for the future prosperity of the Welsh food and drink industry.
“Japan has a population of 127 million, and is one of the wealthiest and more mature consumer markets in the world. Food and beverage is the largest expenditure for Japanese households and the country relies on food imports to satisfy consumer demand.
“Unlocking new markets brings even greater opportunities for Welsh food and drink businesses to not only showcase their first-class produce to the world, but also generate more revenue and increase profits. With Wales’ reputation and provenance, there is a strong platform for further growth.
“The UK withdrawal from the EU has required our producers to find new markets, often further afield. Calon Wen’s performance in Japan has shown Welsh companies’ can continue to be successful internationally and there is a range of support available.”