Japan trip reports 4: Crystal

Hi everyone! Here’s our last Japan trip report, from Crystal from Karaka. Enjoy!

It was a great honor to have the opportunity to study in Japan. Under the guidance of Nick and Glen, our team departed on 29th of September, flying 11 hours to arrive at Tokyo Narita Airport.

The next day, we visited Kappabashi Cook’s Town, known for its restaurant necessities and packaging. I discovered a food box with a handle that would be perfect for our company’s platters, making it easy to carry flat without risking the sushi’s appearance by sliding around.

Our team went to a supermarket food hall to learn about how they display products. We saw Japanese railway bento, which is delicious seafood on rice in a reusable ceramic pot. They also had collapsible chopsticks that are handy and save space. A great choice for all kinds of users.

We visited the Ramen Museum in Yokohama with Mr. Takagi, which taught us about the history of ramen in Japan and made us feel nostalgic.

For the next three days, we went to our suppliers’ factories.

Our soy sauce supplier, with more than 300 years of history, became successful because they never gave up and kept coming up with new ideas. We learned from them that being persistent is really important. As well as their famous products, we got to try the soy sauce ice cream that is unique to this region, and it tastes great.

The vinegar factory is very careful – they have thorough systems in place to make sure everything they do is high quality and mistake-free. We want to be as careful and strict in our work as they are.

The ginger factory is a family business that’s been around for over 50 years. The family works hard together to make sure the business keeps growing. This matches our company’s philosophy.

Our mayo supplier is a company that really cares about its customers and is very welcoming. When we visited their mayo centre, they even put up the New Zealand flag and a welcome sign. Their company is full of energy and creativity, just like their logo. We want to be as sincere and warm with our customers as they are.

I had a great time during my trip and enjoyed the cleanliness of public areas in Japan. The absence of trash cans in public areas might have contributed to the cleanliness and lack of odor. Additionally, experiencing the variety of delicious Japanese cuisine was a wonderful experience for me.

I want to express my gratitude to company for providing me with this opportunity, our bosses for making this trip possible, and to Glen for organizing and arranging everything throughout the trip. Of course I had a great time with my wonderful team. I plan to apply the knowledge I gained during my journey to enhance my shop operations in the future.

Japan trip reports 3: Annie

Hi everyone! Here’s what Annie from Northlink thought and learned on the Japan trip!


During this amazing trip, we visited 5 different factories, each with their own unique and distinct company culture. Vinegar and mayo companies stood out to me.

The vinegar factory’s experience was fantastic.

During our visit to the complex, the factory crew showed us their professional and intricately thought-out manufacturing system. By using an abundance of advanced and intelligent machinery, the workers were able to pay great attention to all the details! There is a unique QR code for all of the products available, which is used to allocate ingredients among the variety available to the customized pallets before processing.

This scan system minimizes human error when recalling ingredients and makes the production process more efficient. They produce more than 400 products in that factory complex alone, half of which use customized recipes like the concentrated vinegar we use at St. Pierre’s. They offers their customers a large variety of options, just as St. Pierre’s does every day to our customers. Their high regard for food hygiene standards (look at us wearing sterile suits!) is also very impressive.

Finally, the crew showed us a wide arrangement of their newly developed products, which were intriguing. The taste of the orange ponzu sauce in the white pack is also highly compatible with our nigiri products, and their new Yuzu vinegar could be perfect to add an extra dimension to our salad products.

On the second day, we visited the mayonnaise centre — another fabulous experience. They have a very creative showroom with a design that appeals especially to children. Their team also showed us a gallery filled with the history behind and process of innovation and production of the mayonnaise franchise.

We then had an interesting and constructive conversation with the product development team. They are currently developing a new type of mayonnaise that’s made out of rice without the use of egg yolk. This will be a great gluten-free and vegan product that will gain popularity within the NZ market.

Meanwhile, they also introduced us to a trendy food in Japan, the Onigirazu (sushi sandwich). We folded different ingredients into sushi rice and nori with mayonnaise. It tasted delicious and looked easy to eat with one hand on the run. I think this is a product that’s worth trying out and promoting in St. Pierre’s.

We also got to try their version of the spicy mayonnaise. The product had a very distinctive but amazing taste, which we believe our customers would love a lot.

Other than the factories, we also went to a variety of other establishments in Tokyo, such as Kappabashi Cook’s Town in Asakusa and the department store food halls in Yokohama and the Shibuya district. The variety on display in the Shibuya food hall was especially impressive, featuring a massive array of different flavours and uniquely interesting merchandise.

The locals focus specifically on the preparation and service of their various products and beverages in the most appetizing and culturally stimulating way, offering a very wide variety of delectable options, and stimulating customer enthusiasm. I think that this was very impressive, and I found their range of rice ball options to be mind-numbingly diverse. In the food hall, we got to try a few of these rice balls, including innovative creations like the Miso Onigiri which had left an unforgettable impression on me.

I think that we can try to implement products such as these in our stores. The variety on display there vastly outshines the availability at our stores, and I think that we’d greatly benefit from an increase in culinary diversity. By embracing variety in our shops similar to the food halls, we could also set our store and company apart from local competitors and enhance customer satisfaction.

Department store food halls (new flavours, ways of serving food, service ideas, interesting merchandise).

Overall, this has been a very memorable and insightful trip where we saw, heard, and learned a variety of new and exciting ideas.


Japan trip reports 2: Toon

Want to know what our leading shop managers felt and learned on the Japan trip? Here are Toon from Newmarket Market Room’s thoughts!

This was my first trip to Japan and I was not sure what to expect with regard to their local food and culture, as in how it is different or similar to Japanese food and culture in New Zealand.

The first thing that stood out to me is how quiet people are in Japan. Even with more people in public spaces like malls and public transport, you don’t hear them. Everything seemed a lot quieter outside of the tourist areas.

Mr. Nakashima from a partner trading company took us to see Tokyo Station before visiting their offices

For general stores, most are quite small but nice arranged. At some shops you can have food standing up and the food is cooked right in front of you. All shops use machines to help take orders but you still can see that they put a lot of thought into good customer service. For example, many shops have small hooks under tables to hang your bag on so you don’t have to put it on the floor.

Our mayo supplier made us onigirazu (sushi sandwiches), a new food concept in Japan. Easy to eat, easy to make, and very yummy!

The outstanding thing for me, with regard to food in Japan, is the freshness. Their ingredients seem fresh from the sea, bento with many types, such as small BBQ on a stick and tempura options. I know it’s not always possible, but I would like to see more fresh ingredients incorporated into our menu, as opposed to frozen. I realise it will not make much of a difference in taste as our ingredients are as fresh as can be, but I think the visual difference will be appreciated if customers see us preparing food with fresh ingredients. We should work in a way that customers can see what goes into their food so they are assured that it is all fresh.

Also, I noticed a larger variety of tempura in Japan. I would like to see us try some fresh, crunchy ingredients in our Tempura, like capsicum or pumpkin for example.

Moving forward, I would like to see some western influence infused into the Japanese freshness. Possibly something like Basil Pesto that would work well with seafood. Beef aburi with our sauces (teriyaki, mayo). We could trial these in-house as a “fusion” option first.


Overall it was an amazing time for all of us to visit the factories. I could see how all suppliers welcomed us and the strength of our relationships. Their quality and innovation was clear to me in how they paid attention and time to discussing their products.

There are also some interesting new products coming soon, such as egg-free mayo and many new products from our soy sauce supplier. I hope to see them in our shops soon.


With Thanks to all who made this trip possible, and I very much appreciate the opportunity.