Japanese Company Eyes Working with Indian Firm to Produce Soy Sauce in India using Traditional Brewing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An employee of Chiba Shoyu Co. explains to Indian company executives how to make koji at the company in Katori, Chiba Prefecture, on Sept. 26.

KATORI, Chiba — A long-established soy sauce maker in Katori, Chiba Prefecture, has launched an initiative to have traditional Japanese soy sauce production take root in India with an eye to the huge market potential there.

Chiba Shoyu Co., which has a 170-year history, plans to conduct a pilot project on naturally brewing soy sauce in India. In September, two Indian business executives visited the soy sauce maker’s factory to see the condiment’s production process.

The collaboration between Japanese and Indian companies for soy sauce production became possible after the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) approved Chiba Shoyu’s proposal to JICA’s business pilot program. For the program, which has been in place since fiscal 2022, JICA seeks companies for business proposals that can help resolve problems in developing countries and commercialize the plans by supporting the companies with subsidies. Chiba Shoyu intends to relay to an Indian company the soy sauce production technology that it has developed for many years, in which the key ingredient, koji, is made from soybeans, and fermentation broth, made by mixing the koji and salt water, is fermented and matured.

Avantika Sinha, 31, the president of a restaurant company in New Delhi, and Ankur Chawla, 36, an executive of the company, visited Japan on Sept. 24-29, during which they observed the making of koji and other processes to produce soy sauce at Chiba Shoyu on Sept. 25-26.

Chiba Shoyu is seeking to work with overseas companies amid sluggish domestic demand for soy sauce due to factors such as the spread of Western food and a declining population. Soy sauce is not commonly consumed in India, but the country’s population is projected to overtake China as the world’s largest by the end of this year, raising the possibility for India to grow into a huge market.

“Soy sauce has been available in India, but there is no company that locally produces soy sauce from making koji. The taste of soy sauce depends 90% on the quality of koji,” said Chiba Shoyu President Kyosuke Iida, 66, who visited Sinha’s company in July. “Also in India, where economic development is remarkable, people tend to prefer food made from natural ingredients.”

The soy sauce maker intends to first provide technical support to a local company under the pilot project and consider its future local production with possible capital investment.

Sinha, who received an explanation about koji-making from a Chiba Shoyu employee, said that the consumption of soy sauce is highly likely to increase with demand for Japanese food growing in India. Chawla said there have been attempts to create new flavors by adding soy sauce to Indian cuisine and expressed his confidence in developing a new business through soy sauce production.