Japanese Consul-General visits our ITO EN factory
A JAPANESE tea company’s relationship with Wangaratta has been strengthened following a visit from the Consul-General of Japan on Monday.
ITO EN green tea has been manufactured in North Wangaratta since 2004, sourcing tea leaves from nearby plantations in the Kiewa Valley and Alexandra.
Japanese Consul-General, Kazuyoshi Matsunaga, said he was pleased with the business development of ITO EN in Wangaratta.
“ITO EN’s manufacturing plant in Wangaratta has a good business culture, a high quality control system and good management,” Mr Matsunaga told the Wangaratta Chronicle.
“We employ many locals from the area - we train them and help them acquire business skills that can be used in other fields.”
Despite the recent closure of Toyota manufacturing plants nationwide, Mr Matsunaga said he remained positive about the future of manufacturing in Australia.
“Some people said ‘Oh this is the end of manufacturing’ but I don’t think so,” he said.
“Australia is very rich in natural resources and it’s good to have our sister city relationship, which has been developing for more than 40 years.
“Plus the soil, suitable weather conditions and sunshine in Victoria produce very high premium quality tea leaves.”
ITO EN managing director Masashi Sato said a key reason behind the company’s decision to manufacture tea in Wangaratta was the climate.
“While the tea season in Ja- pan runs from April to October, here it runs from October to March,” Mr Sato explained.
“This ensures a sustainable supply of tea throughout the whole year.”
Mr Sato said ITO EN sell in bulk to the hospitality industry and wholesalers, such as Woolworths.
“The increasing popularity of green tea is a good movement for us,” he said.
“Matcha, which is essentially firmly ground and refined green tea, has been called a ‘super food’ like chia seeds and quinoa...we’ve started to produce Australiangrown matcha this year.”