Food trends come and go, but the gluten-free movement appears to be here to stay. In fact, in November 2014, market research firm Mintel estimated that the gluten-free food market would reach sales of $8.8 billion for the year, representing an increase of 63 percent from 2012 to 2014. The market’s demand for gluten-free options is prompting Henrico County-based San-J International, Inc., a leading producer of tamari sauce, to invest $38 million to increase production volumes with state-of-the-art equipment.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Henrico County Economic Development Authority to ensure the success of the project. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe approved the performance-based Virginia Investment Partnership Grant in the amount of $300,000; this incentive is available only to existing Virginia companies. Funding and services to support San-J International’s employee training and retraining activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
Investing in Henrico
Masaki Nakagawa, Director of Administration, Production Control, Sales & Marketing for San-J International, says, “The Henrico Economic Development Authority was very helpful. They answered the regulation and expansion questions we had and directed us to the proper people. They offered an excellent incentive package for us, which influenced our decision to expand here.” Nakagawa reports construction is scheduled to begin in July 2015 and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2016.
In a formal press release, Takashi Sato, President of San-J International, Inc., said, "We have long appreciated the commitment of the Commonwealth and Henrico County to our company's continued prosperity. Governor McAuliffe's personal visit with our corporate leadership during his recent trade mission to Japan, along with the many years of support from Henrico, assured us that making such a large investment to serve the growing U.S. market from right here was the best choice for us."
“Henrico is pleased that San-J has chosen to expand its manufacturing facility in eastern Henrico County,” stated Frank J. Thornton, Chairman of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors. “Henrico County has been working with the company for a long time on this expansion, and we are pleased that San-J will be providing the world with even more high-quality, gluten-free tamari sauce from this expanded facility. Landing new companies is always nice, but having one of our existing companies decide to expand here is especially gratifying.” San-J’s expansion will create 18 new jobs in Henrico County.
About San-J International
San-J International (originally San-Jirushi) was founded by the Sato family as a tamari and miso producer in 1804 in Mie, Japan, and began selling its products in the U.S. in 1978. The company’s current president, Takashi Sato, is an eighth-generation member of the founding family.
San-J International began brewing tamari sauce at its Henrico facility in 1987. Why did the firm choose Henrico County? A climate similar to the location of the corporate office in Japan was important, and the comparatively low cost of living and attractive housing market were a draw for the company’s leadership. (Watch the San-J International Henrico Business Spotlight video.)
In addition to its premium 100 percent soy, gluten-free tamari soy sauce, the company also produces shoyu, dressings, soups, crackers and cooking sauces, like Asian BBQ sauce, Szechuan Hot & Spicy Marinade & Stir Fry Sauce, and Thai Peanut Marinade and Dipping Sauce.
DID YOU KNOW?
The three bars in the San-J logo represent three rivers the company used for its cargo vessels when it was a wholesaler in port.
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