Exporting Artisan Cheese to Japan
As charted in last summer’s Culture article Made in Japan, Japanese interest in all things artisanal cheese is undergoing a meteoric rise.
In addition to Japanese-produced cheeses finding more favor on their home turf, increased interest is resulting in more importation of both European and American farmstead and artisanal cheeses.
Over the course of the last five years, a collaborative effort has been hatching between the Artisan Cheese Exchange, based in Wisconsin and KEN International, a Japanese company owned by cheese expert Mr Hisada, to import and sell American artisan cheese through their 20+ cheese shops. The shops are clean, cheese is carefully selected and well merchandised and their staff is very well trained.
Mr. Hisada, who has visited the US regularly over the years, returned again last summer to tour various artisan cheese makers’ facilities and make his final cheese selections. At that time, he extended an invitation to three cheese makers to join him at the Japan Supermarket Trade Show in February for his launch of U.S. cheeses into Japan.
The three cheesemakers chosen were David Gremmels of Rogue Creamery, Andy Hatch of Uplands Cheese and John Fiscalini of Fiscalini Farmstead Cheese.
The objective was to promote their cheeses to Mr Hisada’s wholesale customers and then conduct a day of “meet the cheese maker” events at the top four shops in Tokyo. It also provided time for the cheese makers to get to know the Hisada family. In addition to these U.S. cheesemakers, many of the most prestigious international cheese makers from the global marketplace were also in attendance - a true testament that Mr. Hisada has only chosen the “best of the best” for the Japanese marketplace.