It couldn’t have happened to a nicer frozen snack.
May 12, Imuraya Group released its financial results for the previous fiscal year and reported record revenue of 1.4 billion yen ($10.8 million). Not only was it the highest in the company’s 75-year history, it was impressively more than twice as high as the previous year.
The company name might not be immediately recognizable, but they are the makers of several Japanese confections, centered around sweet adzuki beans. Their flagship product Azuki Bar is one of the most popular frozen snacks in Japan.
In Japan, the Azuki Bar is legendary, mainly for its reputation for being incredibly tough. People often joke about its tooth-busting potential, and the company itself issues warnings to eat with caution. The actual harshness of this one is clouded by urban legends, and personally, I’ve never found them that harsh. On the other hand, we managed to drive a nail through a piece of wood with one, so some caution is probably advised while eating.
On top of all that, Azuki Bars really has a lot going for it. Like many long-standing Japanese snacks, such as Umaibo and Garigari-Kun, they’ve managed to keep prices low, so one usually costs around 100 yen ($0.77).
Second, they are all natural with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives added. In reality, the ingredients can all be counted on one hand: sugar, aduki beans, cornstarch, salt and mizuame. Mizuame is a sweet substance made from the converted starch of starch-rich foods such as rice or potato.
▼ We even made a healthy red bean rice dish with Azuki bars
You may also have noticed the total absence of any dairy product in these bars thus, making it an ideal snack for those who are lactose intolerant or cattle-fed. Perhaps it was these benefits, along with its great taste that resembles a subtle chocolate flavor, that drove sales to a record 300 million units.
Imuraya said Azuki Bars’ export sales to the United States in particular have boosted profits and last year the company set up its first affiliate manufacturer in Malaysia. In Japan, meanwhile, online reviews were both surprised and pleased with the company’s fortunes.
“Everybody loves those blunt weapons!”
“It’s great. Their Ice Manju are really good too.
“That makes sense. They’re pretty good.”
“I didn’t know that people from other countries also ate adzuki beans.”
“I wonder if they will surpass Garigari-kun.”
“An Azuki bar is said to be nine or ten on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making it harder than corundum.”
“They are good but the teeth always disappear after I eat one.”
“I was watching a Japanese YouTuber who lives in the United States and was surprised to see that Azuki Bar is sold there.”
It’s certainly great to see that Azuki Bar is getting its due worldwide and earning a place in the frozen snack market that it deserves. Hopefully, Imuraya might celebrate by giving them away for free again this year, and maybe even in other countries this time. If so, remember to pace yourself and protect your teeth.
Source: Tokyo Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Hachima Kiko
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