MUJI Products Made Locally: Taiwan Soymilk
MUJI Taiwan, established in 2004, operates 57 stores and is well-rooted into the local community. One of MUJI Taiwan's most successful localization initiatives is the "Found Market", an activity to discover and refine good products in the region to offer them as high quality MUJI products. Popular Found Market products include honey, tea, noodles, soy products, fresh vegetables and fruits. In this article, we will introduce the best-seller at Found Market jointly developed product with local producers – soymilk.
※Found Market Website (Chinese): https://www.muji.com/tw/muji-market/index.html
●The Best Seller of Found Market
On October 2021, MUJI Taiwan began the sale of rich and nutritious soymilk made from soybeans grown in Taiwan. It has become a local favorite because of its freshness and trustworthiness as a safe product that is transparent about its production history such as where the soybeans are produced and who makes them. It is available as unsweetened and lightly sweetened, and contains no preservatives, allowing customers to enjoy the flavors of soybeans. It is sold in 200ml glass bottle for NT$35 (about 160 yen) at 28 stores. Even though its price is three to four times higher than soymilk sold in supermarkets, it is the best seller of Found Market in terms of total sales as well as volume of sales with roughly 90,000 bottles sold in eight months.
●Finding a Local Partner
The development of Taiwanese soymilk started during the reopening of MUJI Beyond Plaza in Yonghe, New Taipei City on October 2021. The Yonghe area is famous for soymilk; the word " Yonghe " is widely associated with high quality soymilk and often used when naming soymilk products. MUJI Taiwan reached out to "Big Man Cooperation", a local organization which grows soybeans using smart agriculture and specialized machinery, to come up with a catalyst for the store reopening to which Big Man Cooperation was delighted to help.
●Benefits of Cultivating Soybeans in Taiwan
Since 2015, Taiwan has been recommending producers to shift from cultivating rice to soybeans or other cereal crops, because prolonged rice cultivation increases the risk of land subsidence due to its large requirement of groundwater. Soybeans have a variety of properties that have a positive impact on the agroecosystem. Crop rotation that includes soybeans can enhance soil fertility and soil structure, while reducing soil erosion.
However, due to the cheaper alternative of imported soybeans, the consumption of Taiwan-grown soybeans is low despite the rising level of production. To better the situation, Big Man Cooperation purchases soybeans at a fixed price from the producers which allows them to focus on producing high quality soybeans with stable income. MUJI Taiwan cooperates with Big Man Cooperation to support producers by expanding sales channels of high-quality soybeans in the form of soymilk and other soy products. MUJI Taiwan through its website, storefronts, and ads creates opportunities for consumers to understand the value of homegrown soybeans.
●Assurance of Quality
MUJI Taiwan sells soymilk made from homegrown, non-genetically modified soybeans with zero pesticide residues, and free of emulsifiers and preservatives. "No genetic modification, no residual pesticides" is labeled on the packaging to assure customers of its quality. Based on one of MUJI principles of manufacturing, “simplification of packaging”, glass bottles are chosen as containers. Glass bottles have high recycling rate and low environmental burden during its recycling process relative to plastic.
Since the reopening of MUJI BEYOND PLAZA, MUJI Taiwan offers soymilk as school lunch at elementary schools and kindergartens in Yonghe District, New Taipei City. In Taiwan, soymilk made from genetically modified soybeans is prohibited in school lunches, and Taiwan recommends schools to purchase from trustworthy sellers, which is why MUJI Taiwan's soymilk was adopted for school lunch. Furthermore, for student’s education, teachers share the benefits of cultivating soybeans in Taiwan.
MUJI Taiwan also sells a wide variety of soybean products made in Taiwan, such as soy sauce and savory and crispy hand-baked bean crackers. The soy sauce is made from black soybeans using a traditional method where it is fermented and aged for 120 days to bring out its deep flavor. New products are actively being developed such as partnering with popular local confectionery to develop soymilk cookies to be ready by this fall.
●Gaining the Support of Taiwanese People
MUJI Taiwan's efforts to increase the consumption of soy products allowing local producers to expand their business of growing soybeans was appreciated by the Taiwanese community including local authorities.
MUJI Taiwan looks to apply the knowledge and expertise gained from Found Market to the development of local MDs and continue to rollout products and services that are essential to daily life of everyone living in Taiwan.