Case Studies of Business Recovery in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2019-2020

1Preparation process conducted under strict temperature and sanitary controls 2Suzuki says, “I want to pursue my ideal way of sake brewing.” 3Tenmei, a mainstay product of the brewery available in many variations depending on the brand of rice used 4Quality control of rice is also important, as the brewery handles diverse rice brands. 5An expanded warehouse has allowed more meticulous temperature control, quality management of pre-shipping products and sake maturation suitable for each brand. 6Upgraded equipment has automated many processes and enabled development and production of many different products. 7The “Enjoy the First Squeeze” event held annually since 2014 has gained loyal local fans and received more than 400 participants in 2019.650647the Annual Japan Sake Awards for three consecutive years from 2013 and the Governor’s Award in Fukushima Prefecture’s Refined Sake Fair in 2016 for the first time in 16 years. These showed a marked recovery of Akebono Shuzo to the public.Since 2017, Akebono Shuzo has been participating in and brewing sake for the Okoshizake Project, providing Kiyu in 2017, Kizunamai in 2018 and Kizunamai Reiwa in 2019.On the sales front, under Suzuki’s belief that jizake (locally brewed sake) should be loved by local people, the brewery has been working in coopera-tion with local sake stores to increase the ratio of sales within the prefecture. The in-prefecture shipment volume, which stood around 40% before the disaster, has now grown to nearly 70%.Installing desired equipment by using government support for SME groupUpgraded equipment also under-pinned the brewery’s outstanding recovery and advancement. Instead of relying on the experience and intuition of brewers, Suzuki renewed the brewery’s equipment in order to produce sake of stable quality throughout a year with a particular focus on temperature and sanitary controls.“The government support for SME group has enabled us to quickly install an almost perfect set of equipment we needed.”Of course, good equipment alone does not produce good sake. Suzuki notes the important things in sake brewing.“Sake is a mirror that reflects the feeling of brewers. I think yeast and rice malt used to make sake ‘perceive’ the attitude of a brewery, its equip-ment and qualities of brewers. This is not a scientific fact but is the truth for me, and I want brewers to be in fine spirits when making sake. Creating a joyful atmosphere and pleasant work environment and guaranteeing a decent living standard for them are also important.”He continues: “Our work does not end when we finish making sake. Sake and its culture are made up by brewers as well as people who drink it and feel happy by doing so. I believe we must engage in sake brewing while thinking how we at Akebono Shuzo can make people happy with our sake.”Okoshizake ProjectA project promoted by shinkin banks in Japan to support the recovery of disaster-affected areas by donating a part of sales of sake brewed using rice from the four disaster-affected prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima and Kumamoto (in 2017) and from all 47 prefectures (since 2018).Akebono Shuzo Co., Ltd.Brewing sake that embodiesconcepts originating in Fukushima.Although sake brewing requires the expert skills of the chief brewer, there is an abundance of cases in Japan where people with a strong desire brew un-matched sake. It can probably be said that Akebono Shuzo’s fans are asking for the heart of the brewer.Points for successIt is precisely a long-established company that is qualified tochallenge “unparalleled originality.”Food companies possess a high degree of flexibility in their product planning. In the same manner that Akebono Shuzo set its sights on yogurt, new innovation will emerge from rice polishing yields, yeast, and changing raw materials. I’d like to look forward to “unparalleled originality” that is attracting the attention of the world.Points of expectationComments and evaluationby Editorial board memberYUGE ToruE25

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