Big in Japan: Cheese with Welsh language name first to get Nihon government seat of approval
A Pembrokeshire cheese with a Welsh language name has become the only one from Europe certified as organic by the Japanese government.
Since September 2019, Calon Wen has been expanding in Japan, with now around 100 locations in the country stocking its products.
It now hopes its gold medal result in the race to be certified as organic will be a big boost ahead of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in Japan, which starts in just over two weeks’ time.
Stuart McNally of Calon Wen said that from September 2019, Calon Wen’s retail stockists in Japan began expanding gradually.
And he revealed that as well as cheese, it hopes to export Welsh cakes to Japanese stores too.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The Welsh Government said that Brexit meant that they were looking for new markets for products from Wales overseas.
“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,” Minister for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said.
“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.
“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.”