Food & Drink
Japan has a long and successful relationship with Welsh industry. In 2015, Japan’s largest manufacturer of savoury snacks, Calbee Inc, opened its first European operation in Deeside, North Wales, looking to earn a share of the UK’s £3 billion savoury snack market.
Wales has become the perfect place for some of the world’s most successful and ambitious businesses. Japanese food specialists, Calbee Inc, is hugely popular in North America and Asia – and its latest world-class operation, in Flintshire, North Wales, is helping the £1.2 billion business boom.
With an emphasis on values and its employees having fun as a vital part of the company, Calbee launched the pea-based, better-for-you snack, Yushoi, last summer. Richard Robinson, Managing Director of its UK operations, takes up the story.
“The company was started by one man, Mr Matsumoto. In 1949, he had an amazing idea to combat the malnutrition problems in post-war Japan using peas. He wanted to find convenient meal solution ideas that would actually overcome malnutrition, which was primarily caused by calcium and vitamin B deficiency. The name Calbee was actually formed from those two words.
“Calbee UK was formed in 2014 and we opened our world-class factory in North Wales in 2015. We felt that Deeside was a perfect location for us and we were excited to become part of the community.
“We’ve received an immense amount of support from the Welsh Government who were keen to see Calbee invest not only in the UK and Europe, but also in the Deeside community. The financial investment made by them made it possible for us to bring Calbee UK operations to the area and to create new jobs for the local community.
“There has been an increase in Japanese and Chinese food businesses investing in the UK. They’re seeing this as a great opportunity to really grow their business as well. I think Calbee’s a great sign of how global the food industry is developing.
“We bring something completely new. We are not a typical snack company and have set out from day one to be different. Launching a factory is no mean feat and creating something that is industry-leading adds further pressure.
“We’re very excited about our huge plans to grow. Calbee has invested £6.5m in this facility with the help of the Welsh Government, but we’re only utilising around 25 per cent of the factories capacity. We have a vision for the next five years and our goal is that business will grow to $100m by the end of 2020. The Deeside operation is strategically important with regard to that growth.”