Black Garlic Grown by the power of connection and sustainability
－ Please tell us what gave birth to Aomori Black Garlic.
n 2006, then medical professor of Hirosaki University, Jinichi Sasaki made a research presentation that black garlic fermented at high-temperature for a long time was highly functional. It motivated us to make Aomori Prefecture the birthplace of black garlic, and a study meeting was held using the budget of “SME Regional Resources Utilization Promotion Law” which has just taken effect at that time. I attended the study meeting, being anxious to start producing black garlic, but what the meeting taught us was not about how to make it but only about its components. So leaving the job of attending meetings to my wife, I myself devoted to make a trial product of black garlic. I Leaned by trial and error such as the amount of moisture and temperature adjustment until making it really tasty. Of course the ingredient is Aomori-produced garlic. Producing black garlic also has a benefit that we can use non-standard garlic.
Food processing companies which attended the study meeting have worked on producing black garlic respectively, and we consulted each other asking like “how far did you go?” and made it into shape.
Those associates at that time are the core members of Aomori Prefecture Black Garlic Association.
－ I heard you are now exporting Aomori Black Garlic to over 20 countries around the world. Did you have a good start?
We were unable to make the grade for the first few years when we started to sell black garlic. The association members used to promote at the major supermarkets with setting up a booth displaying only black garlic products. As we all sell the same products, capturing market share is competitive, but we kept encouraging members to continue co-sales promotions, as collaboration is a key to success.
We’ve been also active on attending business networking meetings held in and out of Japan, which led to the chances of doing business with a world-class chef and with a national grocery store in the States. Our product packages for the States label “JAPANESE AOMORI”, which express our passion and glory that black garlic is made in Aomori, by local companies, with local ingredients.
It’s been 10 years since the association was founded. The sales keep increasing every year. I believe our sustained promotions must be paying off. Association members still keep having a lunch meeting every month, jokingly saying “Why we have to keep having lunch together for 10 years”.