By Christine Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (NNN-Bernama) — Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) Nara sees Malaysia as a big market for Nara food products in the ASEAN region due to its large, diverse and multicultural market.
Jetro Nara chief director Mikiko Kigawa said it will make its first foray into Malaysia before entering other ASEAN countries.
“We see a strong potential demand for Nara products with its multiracial and multicultural base,” she told Bernama during the Nara Food Fair which was held for the first time in Kuala Lumpur recently from Nov 17 to 26. The fair was also held in the state of Penang from Nov 20 to Dec 2.
It featured various food and beverage products from three companies from Nara prefecture.
Kigawa emphasised that Japan’s first capital was located in Nara and it was the birthplace of Japanese culture. Sake and many other local cuisine originated from there.
“We hope to include more food and beverage companies in the upcoming food fair,” Kigawa said.
Hidetoshi Takigawa, general manager of the sales department in Yamato Honey Co. Ltd., a Nara-based producer of coffee, matcha and soft drinks said Nara offers many agriculture and farming products. Most of them are niche and natural items from smaller companies.
“These companies are targeting to venture abroad,” he told Bernama at the food fair in Kuala Lumpur.
It has been distributing concentrated coffee, matcha portions and other beverage items at several retail outlets in Malaysia since this year. The company is aiming for halal certification in Malaysia two years from now, Takigawa said.
Meanwhile, Ikeri Co. Ltd’s planning manager Koji Ikeda told Bernama that the company would like to introduce its hand-stretched Miwa somen noodles with a history that dates back 1,200 years from Miwa Mountain, among Japan’s most sacred places.
Ikeri is the leading producer of traditional Miwa somen noodles from Sakurai city in Nara Prefecture, Ikeda said.
Another fair participant is Nishiki Soysauce Co. Ltd. Sales director Sakae Ohgata said the soy sauce producer introduced its range of sauces made from vintage recipes from the founding Ohgata family, descendents of a samurai clan more than 400 years ago.
“Our range of soy sauces also includes Muslim-friendly items sourced from organic ingredients,” Ohgata said.
The company is based in Ikaruga in Nara, a historical town with many shrines and temples including the UNESCO World Heritage site of Horyuji Temple.