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Part 12: Iguazu Coffee—Loved by Locals and the World

In the 12th episode, we speak with Toshiki Matsui, president of Iguazu Coffee, known as one of Brazil's most proud coffee companies.

Brazilian Coffee with a Connection to the Japanese

President Toshiki Matsui

The company was established in 1967 with joint investment from major plantation owners, including the late Kunihiro Miyamoto (born 1916, Oita Prefecture), a businessman, agricultural manager and first president of the company, who immigrated to Argentina in 1934 and ran a coffee processing and rice milling plant with his brother in the city of Cornelio Procopio, Paraná.

Since Marubeni Corporation began investing in the company in 1972, the company has expanded its sales channels globally while also increasing its production scale. It has also implemented a variety of cutting-edge technologies to this day and continues to manufacture and sell instant coffee under the motto of "delicious coffee that will please everyone."

Today, 75% of Iguazu Coffee's instant coffee is exported and enjoyed in approximately 50 countries around the world, with the remaining 25% being sold domestically.

Pursuing the coffee that customers love

The company manufactures three types of instant coffee: spray-dried, freeze-dried, and agglomerated, with a total production capacity of 23,000 tons per year. While there is a high demand for spray-dried coffee in Japan, agglomerated coffee accounts for nearly 70% of the total in Brazil.

The company's strengths lie in its manufacturing facilities and R&D team's communication skills to turn a variety of customer needs into products, as well as its high level of technical ability to make full use of pilot plants and realize product images.

In addition, while stable product delivery on time is something that is taken for granted in Japan, many of our competitors do not adhere to this standard because the main ingredients are agricultural products, the prices of which fluctuate greatly, and this is another reason why we are highly rated by our customers.

Sister company begins operations in Vietnam

Despite the various difficulties that arose from the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020, the business itself remained strong, supported by stay-at-home consumption at home, without any decline in demand. However, the Brazilian coffee industry went through a turbulent period in 2021, when frost damage reduced the international competitiveness of Brazilian coffee beans, and in 2022, the chaos surrounding the Russia-Ukraine issue led to a decline in exports to Russia, the second largest export destination after the United States. During this time, especially since 2021, emerging instant coffee exporting countries such as Vietnam and India have emerged.

In an era when customers are increasingly seeking low-priced instant coffee due to global inflation, it is necessary to produce products that are price competitive. Brazil is by far the world's largest producer of coffee (35% of the world's market share), and has access to a wide range of raw materials, from high-quality Arabica beans to price-competitive Robusta beans, but it is not always the cheapest in the world.

Therefore, while aiming for higher added-value business in Brazil, Marubeni has established a second instant coffee factory, Iguazu Vietnam Co., Ltd., in Vietnam, which has price competitiveness with 15% of global production, and is scheduled to start operations in 2022. By combining the benefits of raw materials from Brazil and Vietnam with the company's technology, it will be able to meet a wide range of customer needs and the group as a whole will be able to assert its presence in the global instant coffee industry.

Iguazu Coffee Company logo

When the Vietnam factory was launched, eight people were seconded from Brazil, which has many years of know-how and human resources, and currently four technical staff are stationed there as the factory manager and other manufacturing and technical executives. In conjunction with the start of operations in Vietnam, a new "IGC" logo was also created that will be used worldwide from June 2022.

Community-based and contributing to the local community

The company is a representative enterprise in the town of Cornelio Procopio (population 48,000). Many employees are working together for two generations, siblings, or couples, and there is a family-like solidarity between employees and the local community, which has led to high employee loyalty.

During Matsui's first posting in 1992, the company introduced the 5S (sort, set in order, clean, standardize, sustain) improvement campaign, unique to Japanese companies, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the company's founding. When he began his second posting in 2020, he was deeply moved to see how Japan's excellent methods for factory management had become completely rooted within the company through this campaign.

With the aim of being an exemplary model for the local area with an environmentally conscious approach to management, the company introduced a biomass boiler in 2009 and also conducts community-wide initiatives such as holding annual training sessions for school teachers and children on sewage purification facilities. Iguazu Coffee, beloved by locals and around the world, is truly a Japanese-Brazilian collaborative instant coffee.

Overview of Iguazu Coffee
Official name: Cia. Iguaçu de Café Solúvel
Cornelio Procopio, Paraná State
Established: 1967 (Marubeni Corporation began investing in 1972)
Number of employees:
Approximately 700 <br />Business description: Manufacture and sale of instant coffee (spray-dried, freeze-dried, agglomerated), coffee extract, coffee oil, and other coffee-related products.


*This article is reprinted from the Brazil Nippo (September 16, 2023).


© 2024 Tomoko Oura

Brazil Cia Iguacu De Cafe Soluvel coffee Japanese business enterprises
About this series

Japanese companies in Brazil have continued to operate even amid the harsh conditions of the pandemic. As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to calm down and new values ​​aimed at sustainability are required, this series will introduce the current status of Japanese companies active in Brazil. This is a project sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Brazil. Reprinted from the Newspaper Brasil Nippou.

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About the Author

Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1979, he grew up in Kobe until graduating from high school. After graduating from university, he has been living in Sao Paulo, Brazil since 2001. He is currently working as a freelance reporter and writer for local media outlets aimed at Japanese people, as well as engaged in editing work.

(Updated September 2023)

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