JETRO pitching Fukushima-brewed sake exports to U.S. West Coast buyers

Preparatory work in progress to ship Fukushima-brewed sake to U.S. West Coast

Preparatory work got into full swing on Jan. 12 for the shipment of sample "sake" rice wine brewed in Fukushima Prefecture to the U.S. West Coast for online sales discussions under a project sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). Packing and other preparations were launched at the office of Fukushima Kennan Shuhan Ltd., a dealer in liquor and other beverages based in Koriyama, ahead of negotiations between Fukushima brewers and U.S. sake buyers set to begin in February with the help of JETRO's Fukushima branch. "We would like to explore new markets abroad when sake consumption has been adversely affected by disasters and the coronavirus pandemic," a local sake-brewing industry official said. Being shipped were 18 brands from nine sake breweries: Akebono Shuzo Co., Toyokuni Shuzo & Co., both in the town of Aizu-Bange, Kokken Brewery Co. of Minamiaizu, Sasanokawa Shuzo Inc., Niida-Honke Inc., both in Koriyama, Daitengu Shuzo of Motomiya, Daishichi Sake Brewery Co. of Nihonmatsu, Toyokuni Brewery of Furudono, and Hanaharu Sake Brewery Co. of Aizuwakamatsu. Employees of Fukushima Kennan Shuhan and other staff packed about 400, 720-milliliter bottles into boxes while placing seals on each bottle. They were scheduled to be freighted by air to the United States through the end of January. The JETRO-aided project targets the U.S. West Coast where potential sales of Fukushima-brewed sake are considered more promising than elsewhere in the United States. Individual online meetings are to take place between sake brewers and U.S. customers such as retailers and restaurants from February to March. In March, an event dubbed "KANPAI (toast) – Fukushima" is scheduled, linking breweries and U.S. customers online. The U.S. side will include advisers on alcoholic beverages, who will taste the Fukushima sake, while the Japanese side will provide a brief on the characteristics of each brand. JETRO Fukushima will follow up on the event by assisting individual deals with a view to realizing exports. (Translated by Kyodo News)