History of Kikkoman Corporation (1661-2022)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-79-3

Publication Date: 2022 June 23

Number of References in Bibliography: 982

Earliest Reference: 1661

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Brief Chronology of Kikkoman Corporation

This chronology is based largely on the excellent chronologies near the back of “Kikkoman” (1970? unpaginated), Kikkoman annual reports, dates in "Kikkoman Today & Tomorrow" (1972, p. 1), and dates in Fruin (1983). Japanese names are written Japanese style, with the family name first, followed by the given name (e.g. Mogi Saheiji). See also: https://www.soyinfocenter.com/HSS/kikkoman.php

"Ideally situated close to soybean-growing regions as well as the Edo River, which provided a convenient transportation route for consumers in or near Edo, or present-day Tokyo, Noda has been well-known for its soy sauce (shoyu) production since the Edo period. Noda is located about 30 miles northeast of Tokyo in Chiba prefecture.”

1661 – Soy Sauce first went on the market in Noda in 1661 when the Takanashi and Mogi families constructed breweries and started the brewing of shoyu (the Japanese word for “soy sauce”).

1782 – Mogi Saheiji, head of the oldest branch household in the Mogi line in Noda, begins to make shoyu. He already owned businesses making miso and selling grains.

1838 – In a rather unusual move for the time, Mogi Saheiji, “petitioned for and received central government registration of the brand name Kikkoman, and unknowingly began what would become a century-long crusade for brand recognition of his family’s flagship shoyu, Kikkoman (Fruin 1983, p. 59).

1838 – Kikkoman brand shoyu is designated as the shoyu to be supplied to the Tokugawa Shogunate – the shogun. This custom “was continued until the overthrow of the Shogunate in 1868. Very few firms or individuals were honoured by being appointed special contractors to the Court of the Shogun, and this fact must be considered as a very high tribute to the excellence of the firm's products,…” (Takahashi 1910, p. 163).

1872-1873 – “Shortly after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Mogi Saheiji entered Kikkoman into two world’s fairs, the first held in Amsterdam and the second in Austria. Kikkoman was awarded a letter of commendation of excellence at the Austrian Fair, and following this, Mogi Saheiji redoubled his efforts to promote the brand” (Fruin 1983, p. 59).

1879 – Kikkoman is “registered in California as a legally recognized brand name, a move that predated the same legal protection in Japan by six years!” (Fruin 1983, p. 60).

1881 & 1883 – Mogi Saheiji’s efforts to promote his brand pay off as Kikkoman is accorded “a first-place medal in the All-Japan Industry Promotion Fair, and in 1883 Kikkoman achieved international recognition with the award of gold medal at the World’s fair in Amsterdam” (Fruin 1983, p. 60).

1910 – “The 'Kikkoman' firm owns at present six soy breweries, with the total number of 4,200 hands and eight sets of boilers and steam engines. The yearly output is about 11,800,000 gallons, of which 2,880,000 gallons are exported to foreign countries, the principal destinations being Honolulu, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Tacoma, Denver, Chicago, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and China ports (Takahashi 1910, p. 164).

1914 – When World War I started, excessive competition arose between Japan's many shoyu producers because of the wartime economy, causing a very confused market situation.

1917 Dec. – With these conditions as a background, eight Mogi and Takanashi family companies, the leading shoyu producers in the Noda area, merged to form Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd., a company with capital of ¥7 million and the predecessor of Kikkoman Corporation.

1925 April – Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd. absorbs Noda Shoyu Jozo Co., Ltd., Manjo Mirin Co., Ltd., and Nippon Shoyu Co., Ltd., through a merger.

1926 – Kikkoman No. 7 shoyu brewing plant constructed.

1926 Sept. 16-1928 – The great Noda Shoyu Strike takes place, pitting management against labor. Many books and articles about it have been written. It lasted 218 days, the longest strike in Japan prior to World War II. In effect, it destroyed the union.

1930 Aug. – The Takasago soy sauce production plant (formerly the Kansai Plant) is constructed near Osaka and completed in 1931.

1936 – Kikkoman Worcestershire Sauce plant completed.

1939 – The Goyugura is completed in Noda City, Japan, to mark the twentieth anniversary of the founding of Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd., in 1917. Built on a small island connected by a bridge, shoyu is made here in the traditional way for the imperial family (Taste 1987, p. 8).

1939 – With the start of World War II, government controls on the price of soy sauce are established.

1946 – Kikkoman stock first becomes available to the public.

1949 – Export of Kikkoman soy sauce is reestablished after the war.

1950 – Wartime soy sauce controls end and free competition resumes.

1950s – Kikkoman decides to implement two new, key long-term strategies: globalization and diversification.

1956 Nov. 6 – The first serious attempt to introduce soy sauce to the American public took the form of a television ad campaign in 1956. The commercial was timed for Nov. 6, the day the American presidential elections were held (Eisenhower was reelected) (Taste 1988).

1957 June – Kikkoman International Inc. (KII), a soy sauce sales company, is established in San Francisco, California.

1958 – The first KII branch is established in Los Angeles.

1960 – The second KII branch is established in New York.

1961 July – Kikko Food Corporation is established (later renamed Kikko Food Industries Co., Ltd.). In July 1991, the company becomes Nippon Del Monte Corporation.

1961 – Kikkoman’s elegant and famous dispenser is introduced.

1961 – Seishin Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. established.

1962 Feb. – Tone Beverage Co., Ltd., is established. In February 1963, the company becomes Tone Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Ltd.

1962 Oct. – Katsunuma Yoshu Co., Ltd. is established in Japan. In March 1964, the company becomes Mann's Wine Co., Ltd.

1963 – Japan Calpak Co., Ltd. established.

1963 – Del Monte tomato ketchup and tomato juice are launched in Japan.

1964 Oct. – Noda Shoyu Co., Ltd., is renamed Kikkoman Shoyu Co., Ltd.

1964 – Mann's wine is launched in Japan.

1965 – The third KII branch is established in Chicago, Illinois.

1966 – Sales of Higeta brand products assumed by Kikkoman.

1968 – Bottling of Kikkoman Soy Sauce for the American market begins at the Leslie Foods plant in Oakland, California.

1969 June – Kikkoman invests in and merges with Japan Food Corporation, the biggest distributor of Oriental food in the United States. In June 1978 the company becomes JFC International Inc.

1970 March – Kikkoman invests in and merges with Pacific Trading Co., Ltd., a sister company of Japan Food Corporation.

1972 March – Kikkoman Foods, Inc. (KFI), is established in Walworth, Wisconsin (USA) for the purpose of manufacturing soy sauce and teriyaki sauce. Shipping is scheduled to start in early 1973.

1972 Aug. – Kikkoman + Daitokai (Europe) GmbH is established in Düsseldorf, Germany.

1974 Feb. – Kikkoman Restaurant, Inc. is established.

1979 March – Kikkoman Trading Europe GmbH, a soy sauce sales company, is established in Neuss, Germany.

1980 Oct. – Kikkoman Shoyu Co., Ltd. is renamed Kikkoman Corporation – the company's present name.

1983 January – Kikkoman Ajinomingei Co., Ltd. is established.

1983 June – Kikkoman (S) Pte. Ltd., a production facility, is established in Singapore.

1983 Oct. – Kikkoman Business Development Inc. is established.

1984 – Soy sauce plant in Singapore starts shipments.

1986 Aug. – New shoyu production facilities come on stream at Kikkoman's Chitose Plant, in Hokkaido.

1990 Jan. – Kikkoman buys perpetual marketing rights for the Del Monte brand in the Asian-Pacific region, excluding the Philippines.

1990 Feb. - A joint-venture company, President Kikkoman Inc. is established to produce soy sauce in Tainan, Taiwan. It starts shipments late in 1990.

1995Hon Tsuyu (soy sauce soup base) is launched in Japan.

1996 April – Kikkoman establishes Kikkoman Foods Europe B.V., Europe's first soy sauce manufacturer, located in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, the Netherlands.

1996 May – Production of Shochu, a clear Japanese spirit, commences at a new facility of the Ojima plant.

1997 March – Kikkoman holds a ground-breaking ceremony for its second U.S. soy sauce production plant, in Folsom, California, United States.

1997 Oct. – Kikkoman Foods Europe B.V. begins operations and starts shipments at its plant [in Hoogezand-Sappemeer, the Netherlands]. This production facility manufactures Kikkoman sauces for the entire European market.

1998 Oct. – The second U.S. shoyu manufacturing plant of Kikkoman Foods, Inc., in Folsom, California, starts shipments.

1999 July – Kikkoman opens its new headquarters in Noda, Chiba prefecture, to commemorate the Company's 80th anniversary.

1999 Oct. – Kikkoman Institute for International Food Culture is opened at the Company's new headquarters.

1999 Nov. – Kikkoman announces a joint venture with its partner in Taiwan [Uni-President Enterprises, Taiwan's largest food manufacturer] to build a soy sauce plant in China [in Kunshan, near Shanghai].

2000 May – Kunshan President Kikkoman Biotechnology Co., Ltd. (a joint-venture company) is established.

2000 Aug. – Construction starts on a soy sauce plant in China. The first shipments start in the spring of 2002.

2001 – Kikkoman changes its fiscal year from January - December to April - March.

2002 May – Kunshan President Kikkoman Biotechnology Co., Ltd., holds the grand opening of its soy sauce plant in Kunshan, China.

2002Uchi-no-Gohan (handy Japanese-style seasoning mixes) are launched in Japan.

2003 May – Kikkoman Foods, Inc. (with its plant at Walworth, Wisconsin) holds its 30th anniversary ceremony.

2004 March – Kikkoman invests in Higeta Shoyu Co., Ltd. and Kibun Food Chemifa Co., Ltd. (The latter makes soymilk).

2006 June – Kibun Food Chemifa Co., Ltd. becomes a consolidated subsidiary of Kikkoman.

2007 – Kikkoman celebrates its 50th anniversary in the U.S.

2008 – Kikkoman rolls out its new corporate brand logo and slogan globally.

2008 Aug. – Kibun Food Chemifa Co., Ltd. (now Kikkoman Soyfoods Company) becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Kikkoman.

2009 June – President Kikkoman Zhenji Foods Co., Ltd. holds the grand opening of its soy sauce plant in Shijiazhuang, China.

2009 Oct. – Kikkoman shifts to a holding company structure.

2011 April – Kikkoman Biochemifa Company is established [to produce clinical diagnostic devices and reagents, processing enzymes, etc.].

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