Spreading The Flavours Of Soy, One Country At A Time - Kikkoman Soy Sauce

Subtle seasoning accompaniments like soy sauce bring out the richness and taste of food. Soy sauce is widely adopted and used in many families worldwide, to the extent that it is now synonymous with good, flavoursome food and its versatility of use.

Spreading The Flavours Of Soy, One Country At A Time - Kikkoman Soy Sauce
Mr Harry Hakuei Kosato, Director of Kikkoman India and India Representative at Kikkoman Corporation & Mr Osamu Mogi, Director, Executive Corporate Officer of the International Operations Division at Kikkoman Corporation

Understanding Dynamics Of The Indian Market In Context of Table Sauce and food Habits:

In India, soy sauce is a well-known table sauce most commonly used in Asian cuisines. However, we don’t know much about soy sauce and the different types of soy sauce. Furthermore, many people in India will not be able to distinguish a naturally brewed soy sauce from a chemically produced soy sauce. Kikkoman hopes to address and educate the Indian mass about the differences and types of soy sauce as it kick-starts its marketing campaign. 

With a booming economy and a rapidly rising population, India is a key player in the Asian market, and its position and contribution are projected to grow. However, there is a significant challenge for the sauce to reach the doorstep of every Indian household and retail outlet in India. Kikkoman acknowledges that it will take a few years to penetrate the Indian market. They expect to grow their customer base due to increasing awareness and exposure to different Asian cuisines. 

According to reports from FICCI, the foodservice industry in India is expected to grow to INR 5 Lakh Crore by 2022. Although the COVID-19 pandemic dampened the growth a bit, sustained interest by consumers coupled with technology-led innovations could push the industry to grow.  

Despite the disruptions seen, businesses in India are doing well. The combined net profit of listed companies in India reached a record INR 1.5 trillion. Additionally, the Indian retail industry is one of the fastest-growing countries and the world. It has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries due to the entry of several new players. The table sauces market also looks healthy, with a predicted increase at a CAGR of 18% over the next six years.
 
All these make India the most obvious choice for Kikkoman’s expansion strategy.

What makes Kikkoman Soy Sauce Unique:

Kikkoman Soy Sauce is a naturally brewed all-purpose seasoning that has its origins in Japan. It is made using the traditional authentic Honjozo method and is Japan’s number 1 soy sauce. The brand has a rich and long history of producing soy sauce for the last century. Moreover, they have had significant international market reach in the past six decades since their initial foray into the US market. You can find Kikkoman Soy sauce in over 100 countries, and its sales volume is currently at 516.4 billion yen. 

What Goes In The Making Of Kikkoman Soy Sauce? 

The fermentation process of Kikkoman Soy Sauce lasts several months and is never to be rushed. This process is vital for the products’ well-known elements; rich yet mellow flavour, delicious aroma, and distinctive bright reddish-brown colour. 

Kikkomans’ naturally brewed soy sauce has 4 essential ingredients, i.e. soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. The ingredients may seem basic; however, they are unique and complex in flavour. The brand has been known to produce over 300 aroma components and offers a full-bodied flavour without dominating or masking the taste of the core ingredients. 

This complex flavour is what makes Kikkoman Soy Sauce complement different ranges of dishes like Japanese, Asian, Western and Indian dishes. Currently, the brand has 11 soy sauce production sites and distributes its products worldwide. They offer two types of soy sauce; Kikkoman Soy Sauce and Kikkoman dark soy sauce.

What is the goal for India?

Kikkoman’s eventual goal for India is to make soy sauce a must-have seasoning in Indian households. It aims to follow the vision that made Kikkoman’s Soy Sauce the No.1 seasoning in the Asian sauces category in the US market. Every household cooking tends to follow the trend of hotel service and restaurant, which is how cuisines are developed over time. They intend to target the HORECA business, eventually leading to Kikkoman soy sauce being integrated and assimilated into local Indian Cuisines. 

In addition to this, they will also be targeting the Indian food service industry to establish positioning for the ‘Kikkoman Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce’ as the most authentic and quality soy sauce used and preferred by food professionals in India.

The intent is to launch a range of products for households through the retail market in 2023. The target right now is the HORECA market in Tier 1 cities and will work its way into tier 2 cities and smaller cities. 

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Challenges To Overcome 

With a pique of interest for traditional Asian cuisines, Kikkoman Soy sauce can genuinely make an impact as a reliable and traditionally brewed soy sauce. The strategy in the future is to make Kikkoman Soy Sauce synonymous with the Asian food category. Most customers are unaware of the different types of soy sauce; Kikkoman will address this and educate the masses through different marketing activities. 

They plan to use digital and other media platforms for their marketing plan to make chefs and consumers aware of Kikkoman soy sauce. They also hope to let people understand the differences between available soy sauce and Kikkoman soy sauce. 

Distribution network throughout the country is another challenge owing to the vastness and complexity of the country. Therefore, the brand is currently limiting its activities to metro cities alone.  

The current Indian culinary sauces market is around 3.70 billion dollars, with an annual growth of 6%. Having already seen acceptance amongst the top 500 plus chefs in the country, Kikkoman Soy Sauce is expected to multiply shortly. Kikkoman aims to be number 1 in the Asian sauce category of the culinary sauces market in India. 

Ambassadors And Partnerships

A host of top chefs in India are helping Kikkoman penetrate the Indian market as brand ambassadors. For example, at a “Kikkoman Honjozo Chefs Connect” event, the top chefs served various dishes using Kikkoman Soy Sauce. Another example is that one of Kikkoman’s chef ambassadors held cooking sessions on Instagram Live. 

For 2022, multiple events are organized while the collaboration with the brand ambassadors continues. The brand plans to develop over 100 recipes all year long with the ambassadors and publish the same on Kikkoman’s website and Instagram. This will bolster the effort of making Kikkoman’s soy sauce part of every family’s cooking staple. 

The Kikkoman Soy Sauce is available in 4 SKUs, 500ml, 1L, 1.8L, and 10L. The 500ml and 1L sauce are priced at 235 INR and 435 INR. They are available at Amazon, Nature’s basket, Foodhall, Spencer’s, Bigbasket, Haiko Supermarket, and DMart Ready, a few online and offline stores retailing the sauce. Additionally, Kikkoman Oyster Flavoured sauce, which was recently launched for the Indian market, will be available in June. The initial target is the HORECA market and then the retail outlets. 

The People That Keep The Kikkoman Soy Sauce Vision Alive 

Osamu Mogi

Mr Osamu Mogi is the Director, Executive Corporate Officer of the International Operations Division at Kikkoman Corporation. He has been associated with Kikkoman for over two decades and leading the International Operations Division since 2017.  

Mogi-san has previously worked with Price Waterhouse LLP and holds an MBA from Wisconsin. He is passionate about cooking and eating various cuisines from around the world. Born in Tokyo, Japan, he is a member of the original founding families of the Kikkoman Corporation.  

Harry Hakuei Kosato

Mr Harry Hakuei Kosato is the Director of Kikkoman India and India Representative at Kikkoman Corporation. Having lived in India for the past 13 years, he has spent over two years developing the roadmap for Kikkoman Corporation’s market entry in India. 

Harry-san has previously been instrumental in launching businesses for the Virgin Group and Dyson in Japan as the Head of Marketing. He holds a Master’s degree from Oxford University. He is an Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and holds a Guinness Book of World Records for the “Largest Sushi Mosaic”. He loves simple food, cooking with Kikkoman Soy Sauce, reading books, and practising yoga.