Business

Food & Drink

Sugar rush— Hokkaido

Preface

In a sweet market that is all about the tiny details, Royce’ Confect, started in 1983, is now one of Japan’s most beloved chocolatiers. It has charmed its way round Asia and now has its sights on Europe.

Royce Confect, Chocolate, Confectionery

Japan is into chocolate in a different way to most of the world. Mars bars and Hershey’s Kisses are here, but they are not really what the Japanese think of as chocolate. In the land where the gift for one’s colleagues is a fundamental courtesy, the art of producing and presenting perfectly formed and packaged little sweets is way more important than grabbing a quick sugar rush on the run.

Japan’s chocolate market is much smaller than Europe’s (2006 per capita chocolate consumption was 2.2kg, whereas the British ate 10.3kg and the Danish 7.7kg per…

Q&A: Yasuhiro Yamazaki, founder and president

How did get into the chocolate business?
I was a salesman selling food manufacturinng equipment to local confectioners. We were selling a lot of chocolate-making machinery, as there was a huge boom in white chocolate, which became synonymous with Hokkaido’s image of purity and snow.

What made you set up your own firm?
The climate was right for milk and dark chocolate. We’re almost on the same latitude as Switzerland and Belgium.

Why the apostrophe on Royce’?
Royce’ is Yasuhiro backwards in Japanese, more or less. A friend who’s into numerology told me it would be better luck for the name to have 21 strokes, so I added some.

**1970s:* Yamazaki notices Hokkaido’s boom in white chocolate production.
**1983:* Yamazaki quits his job and establishes Royce’ with capital of ¥10m (€80,000).
**1998:* Royce’s’ capitalization expands sixfold to ¥61m (€500,000).
**1999:* Opens new production facility, with floor space of 35,800 sq m.
**2001:* Royce’ Confect International is established to serve international markets.
**2005:* Diversifies into other business areas, such as arts and crafts and coffee.

Monocle 24

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