USSEC Japan participated in the 21st National Natto Competition held in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, one of the areas hardest hit by the 2011 tsunami and earthquake in Japan. The competition was organized by Japan Natto Cooperative Society Federation to sponsor and demonstrate the commitment of the U.S. Soy industry for the Red River U.S. Award.
USSEC established the U.S. soybean prize category in the National Natto Competition in 2011 in collaboration with the Northern Food Grade Soybean Association (NFGSA). This year, a total of 194 natto products entered the competition, up 72 percent from 2010, a year before the U.S. Soy Industry begun sponsoring the event.
2016 team members included Jess Paulson, Agricultural Attache, U.S. Embassy -Tokyo; USSEC Country Director – Japan Mitsuyuki Nishumura; and Masi Tateishi, USSEC North Asia Regional Human Utilization (HU) Manager & Japan HU Director.
Mr. Paulson provided opening comments at the reception and press meeting in Japanese, including these highlights, “We understand Japanese growers produce high quality soybeans, however, as a result of our trade-partnership we have built with the Japanese natto industry, it’s a great honor for us to have the great relationships we have today and appreciate that the U.S. team can participate in this very important event.”
His speech was followed by Yoshihiro Noro, chairman of Japan Natto Cooperative Society Federation, who gave a welcome greeting. Mr. Noro expressed appreciation to the U.S. Soy Industry for its help with the relief effort for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake & tsunami. “We would like to extend our appreciation when the big earthquake and tsunami hit here in Tohoku in 2011, the U.S. Soybean Export Council reached out a hand of early assistance to the affected areas and it helped us to be able to deliver 79,000 servings of natto made with U.S. Soy to the shelters in Tohoku,” he stated.
Sasanuma Goro Shoten, located in Ibaragi Prefecture, was named winner of the 6th Red River Valley U.S. award. Hiroshi Sasanuma, president of Sasanuma Goro Shoten, said, “I am extremely happy to receive this award as I have been wanting this more than anything.”
USSEC and NFGSA will continue to commit to to supply more than 80 percent of Japan’s natto of U.S. Soy to that country’s industry, strengthening U.S. Soy sales and preserving customer loyalty to U.S. soybeans.
Next year’s Natto Competition will be held in Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, the oldest city in Japan.