long interview

Interview with
Nagasato Co.

We interviewed Mr. Nagasato, president of Nagasato Corporation, which procures sweet potatoes, okra, pumpkins, and shiitake mushrooms for Buddy FOOD.

Q First of all, please tell us about Nagasato Co.

A Until I was 50 years old, I worked as a salaried employee at a middle wholesale market in Kagoshima. The wholesale market has a strong function of collecting agricultural products from farmers, but its sales side function, such as developing sales channels, was weak. We felt that this would cause trouble for both the farmers and their customers, and we established our company with the idea that we should have a solid coordinating function. At the same time, I strongly felt that the time had come for producers to have their own sales channels and customers, so I started farming on my own. What I really felt when I saw it for the first time was that producers had very strong problems, such as having no income during the growing period and many producers having no sales channels. Therefore, we have been working to become a company with a firm coordinating function, uniting contract farmers and connecting them to those who need their vegetables, and we have finally been able to maintain a stable balance between purchasing and selling. I have also been actively providing production support and information to growers, utilizing my experience as a farmer, so that they can produce "sellable" vegetables that meet the needs of the season and the market.

We have continued our business based on the principle of "consistency of thought. Since we do not purchase in large quantities and sell in large quantities, we only contract farmers who are willing to put their heart and soul into their vegetable production. We also try to meet the needs of supermarkets and retailers who "want to see the face of the production area and the producer" as to where they sell their products. In this way, we believe that we can connect the producer's thoughts with those of the sales destination and deliver those thoughts to the consumer.

President Nagasato

Vegetables handled by Nagasato

Q. What criteria do you use to find contract farmers?

A We currently handle vegetables from 14 contract farmers, but we only contract with farmers who are pleasant and careful in their work. We want to work with farmers who can produce vegetables with the utmost care from the standpoint of "consistency of thought. A person's attitude toward vegetable production can be clearly seen in his/her field. The neatness of the field, the shape of the shipment, the way the work is completed, and many other things are indicative of careful workmanship. We sometimes help new farmers, and we tell them to talk to their vegetables every day, and to make sure that the vegetables know that they are being taken care of. By doing so, they will go to see the plots and the vegetables every day, and we believe that the accumulation of these efforts will lead to good vegetable production. However, these people are too nice and have been losing money in terms of business, so we would like to support them in this area so that they can continue their thoughtful production for a long time.

Map of contract farmers

Q. What do you hope to achieve in the future?

A We would like to stabilize the income of producers so that their successors will find farming more and more attractive. To achieve this, we are trying to run unit prices that are set by contract, rather than dealing with producers at market prices. We would also like to provide support in the form of insurance, so to speak, so that the producers themselves can continue their efforts to secure sales outlets, and we can take care of the volume that still fails to sell. In order to achieve this, I believe that we must first secure the sellers, and then establish a process to determine the volume of purchases and contracts.

I don't have any ambitions in particular, and I also believe that this is the only job I can do. I just want to do a job that makes the people I interact with smile and think, "I'm glad I dealt with that person. My dream is to become a concierge who has a thoughtful relationship with producers (Ms. Nagasato's business card describes her as a "farming concierge.)

Q. Do you have a message for people who purchase Buddy FOOD?

A I understand very well the feelings of dog owners who think about their beloved dogs. I live with a Border Collie myself, and I am very careful about what I eat. As a producer, of course I want to produce and provide the best tasting vegetables possible, but through consistency of thought, I also hope to deliver safety and peace of mind, even though they may be tasteless and odorless.

With President Nagasato

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