People cultivating the future of Aomori

柏崎 進一氏
Shinichi Kashiwazaki
Cooperative Union Aomori Prefecture Black Garlic Association
Cooperative Union Aomori Prefecture Black Garlic Association
A voluntary group consists of black garlic producers in Aomori Prefecture started their activities from 2008 as “Aomori Prefecture Black Garlic Association”. Then officially “Cooperative Union Aomori Prefecture Black Garlic Association” was founded in 2013. At present 9 companies belong to the association, aiming to produce quality black garlic, facilitate black garlic branding and promote the sales in and out of Japan.
Awarded presentation grand prize of Aomori Brand Forum 2015Click to see their presentation“Global expansion with `Aomori Black Garlic!’”

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”.

Black Garlic

All from Aomori Made Branding Success as “Black Garlic of Aomori”

- I heard “Aomori Black Garlic” obtained a Regional Collective Trademark.

“Aomori Black Garlic” has obtained a Regional Collective Trademark in July 2015. We stick to register as a prefectural brand, since black garlic’s been produced on large areas of Aomori, and we have a past record of overseas sales. I believe the registration approval for a prefectural range is very rare.
But the registration is not our goal. We are currently working on to establish standards for black garlic quality with Hirosaki University, and it’s in the final stage. The data will offer an advantage, and as it will be the very first standards, it can turn into the world’s standards developed in Aomori. Our approach to quality improvement won’t stop even after meeting our own quality standards.

- Please tell us about the future outlook of Black Garlic.

まOur first goal is to make every single person, especially around Tokyo, taste black garlic. Outside of Japan is also our potential market.
We held “The First National Black Garlic Summit in Aomori” on February 29th (Garlic Day), 2016. About 250 people from 100 companies got together and shared our passion for black garlic and had a great experience as a networking event. We are planning to hold “World Black Garlic Summit” in Aomori Prefecture every year on September 6th (Black Day).
Black garlic will take on a new role if people will enjoy it not only as healthy food, but also as cooking ingredient. We would like to do interesting campaigns to make black garlic recipes known by everyone. We will go all over the world to publicize “Black Garlic” and Aomori Prefecture.

Black Garlic