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Part 13: MN Propolis: Committed to taste and health

In the 13th episode, we spoke with Norihito Matsuda (86, Gunma Prefecture), CEO of MN Propolis.

The company continues to manufacture and sell high-quality propolis and beekeeping products that have undergone highly accurate food analysis, and today accounts for approximately 50% of the propolis products exported from Brazil to foreign countries. Organic soy sauce and miso made using traditional Japanese methods, born from President Matsuda's insatiable curiosity, are also selling well, and orders for ramen noodles in particular are soaring. By the end of the year, sales are expected to exceed 1 million servings, more than double last year's total.

MN products around the world

MN Group logo

The memorable "MN" mark can be seen at health food stores in the Liberdade district of São Paulo. For many years, it has been known as a propolis brand, and has been a popular souvenir for foreigners, with products such as throat sprays that can be easily used, propolis extracts that can boost the immune system and prevent cancer, diabetes, and dementia, tablets, and honey.

The manufacturing plant is located in Mogi das Cruzes, a suburb of Sao Paulo with a large Japanese population, and the scale of the plant is overwhelming, far exceeding the image of what you would expect from a storefront. In the propolis industry, it is known as "MN of the World," and in fact, it is exported to 18 countries around the world.

MN propolis and beekeeping products, organic soy sauce (right), and organic miso (left)

Currently, the MN Group consists of the following five subsidiaries:

MN Propolis: Manufactures and sells beekeeping products. In particular, the freeze-dried powder is produced only by this company in Brazil. It has been designated as a model factory by the SIF (Federal Inspection Agency), which proves the high reliability of the entire production process.

《CETAL - Food Analysis Center》 Officially recognized by the Brazilian government. It is believed to be the largest food analysis center owned by a small or medium-sized enterprise.

[MN Food] Ramen noodles, etc.

[MN Organic] Manufactures and sells propolis, honey, soy sauce, miso, dried herbs, etc.

MN Animal Supplements (scheduled for operation in 2025): Developing health foods for pets.

The entire MN factory


Supporting a long-lived society: "Artepillin C"

Norihito Matsuda, Chairman and Representative Director

Matsuda began researching and investigating propolis, the company's main product, in 1982, and began manufacturing and selling it in 1992. He came to Brazil alone as an agricultural immigrant in 1960, and although he spent the first 22 years working for a company, he was unable to abandon his "manly dream," and with his wife's understanding, he aimed to start his own business in earnest.

In 1993, it was discovered that propolis from the southern state of Minas Gerais contained artepillin C, and in 1997, the Hayashibara Biochemical Laboratory in Okayama Prefecture and Dr. Tetsuya Kimoto announced at a Japanese academic conference that artepillin C may be effective in preventing cancer and diabetes, attracting attention both at home and abroad.

It is now even recognized as having an effect in preventing dementia, and in fact, when you see Matsuda's strong curiosity and ambition, which is hard to believe for an 86-year-old, the effectiveness of the treatment is immediately apparent.

The MN Group's corporate philosophy of "safe, secure, and particular" products, and the belief of putting the customer first through quality and reliability, is also backed up by the company's own food analysis center, which has introduced Japanese-made equipment. The values ​​of various ingredients, including Artepillin C, fluctuate depending on the weather conditions of the year, but even if a certain effective value is not reached, the truth is told to customers. The entire process, from carefully selected raw materials to manufacturing and distribution, is transparent, and complaints are responded to sincerely by Mr. Matsuda or President Wada Carlos, building the trust associated with the "MN" mark.

Selection of propolis raw materials


Original taste and healthy products

The front of the MN Ramen store features the character "mori" (mori) in honor of Inamori's philosophy.

Currently, MN has about 60 products. Among them, the ramen noodles, which the company set a target of 1 million servings per year at the beginning of this year, are expected to exceed that target by the end of the year, and they are excited about it. The secret to their deliciousness is the use of specially ordered wheat flour and kansui water, which requires government permission for use. With the ramen boom, orders are pouring in one after another, and the company has nearly 200 clients, including restaurants and event exhibitors all over Brazil.

Matsuda himself is looking for soy sauce and miso that satisfies his palate, not only for ramen but also for sashimi and other dishes. His organic soy sauce and miso are produced 100% naturally fermented using traditional Japanese methods, without the use of preservatives or additives, and are steadily gaining fans among consumers seeking the "delicious taste of nature."

This ramen set, which includes a bowl of noodles and a miso- and soy-sauce-based soup base, also sells out quickly at retail stores.

The "MN Ramen" restaurant in Mogi das Cruzes is always busy at mealtimes, and serves 6,000 meals a month. At the front of the restaurant, the character "mori" ("mori") is painted in a golden tortoiseshell shape, reflecting Matsuda's belief that "without the Inamori philosophy, I would not be who I am today."

Overview of MN Propolis
Official name: MN Própolis-Indústria, Comércio e Exportação LTDA
Location:
Mogi das Cruzes (head office and factory)
Established: 1992
Number of employees: 125
Business operations: Manufacture and sale of beekeeping products, food analysis, food ingredients (ramen ingredients, etc.), soy sauce, miso, and other organic products.

 

*This article is reprinted from the Brazil Nippo (September 30, 2023).

 

© 2023 Tomoko Oura

Brazil food Japanese business enterprises Japanese food miso MN Própolis propolis soy sauce
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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