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Tohoku strawberry firm has eyes on Mumbai

Norimasa Tahara/The Yomiuri Shimbun

Publication Date : 21-01-2014


An agricultural production company based in a town devastated by the tsunami in 2011 is set to open a strawberry shop in Mumbai next month. The shop will market strawberries grown in India using the company’s branding and management technologies.

The company, GRA Inc., was established by 36-year-old Hiroki Iwasa of Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture, four months after the Great East Japan Earthquake to help revive the town’s strawberry farming.

Iwasa, who serves as representative director and chief executive officer of the firm, worked for an information technology company before establishing GRA. He used some of his experiences there to introduce a production management system for strawberry farming at the new company to improve harvests. The company launched the brand “Migaki Ichigo” to promote sweet and strongly flavored strawberries.

In 2012, the firm opened a branch office in India with the goal of increasing strawberry consumption in the country with a population of 1.2 billion. The firm has already successfully brought greenhouse cultivation of strawberries to Pune in western India, and currently sells around five tons of strawberries a year to local hotels.

The new store will feature a smoothie made of strawberries and milk when it opens its doors on a Mumbai street boasting many high-end food shops. It will also sell strawberries to be eaten fresh, and bottles of strawberry wine produced in Yamamoto.

Iwasa recently visited India for test marketing, where he found that the GRA smoothie was proving popular with Indians. They said the sourness and sweetness of strawberries taste great together.

“Indian people don’t have a tradition of eating fresh strawberries, but I hope they come to like it,” Iwasa said. “Coming from the earthquake-hit area, I want to help reinvigorate Japan’s economy.”


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