It looks like the US Wasabi Industry is in crisis.
Over the last few months there have been communication from US and Canadian Wasabi Growers and Buyers with disturbing news.
1. US Commercial buyer telling us that severe frosts has wiped out at least one, maybe more, major wasabi growers complete crop. The affected wasabi growers are unlikely to replant as they were just about to harvest. So, they had all the expense of getting to harvest, just to lose the crop and the money they would have received. The buyer is being forced to go offshore to ensure reliability of supply for their customers.
2. Canadian grower unable to sell crop because they are under a contract with a licensor who does not have any market to sell the wasabi. The licensor who charged $70,000 for the growing license is saying to keep growing, but the crop is deteriorating in the meantime. The grower expects to lose all his crop because of reliance on incompetent marketing system.
3. Canadian grower sells their farm to the Kiwi’s (see previous post) because they can’t keep going financially due to license issues, and no market penetration.
4. Another commercial buyer says that very small wasabi growers are expecting almost retail prices for their product ex-gate, and don’t (or won’t) understand how markets work. The buyer is now sourcing product offshore.
5. Beaverton Foods purchase Pacific Farms and shut it down.
The expected fall out from all this is that the US and Canadian Wasabi Industry is in disarray and will collapse very quickly. The commercial buyers will start purchasing fresh wasabi from overseas (a number already have) to satisfy their customers.
The larger operations (if any still exist) are likely to fail first due to financial over-extension because of relying on the rising demand to cover the financial costs. Little attention has been paid to disaster protection, marketing the final product and contractual arrangements of “growing licenses”.
It appears most “growing licenses” have been sold to people on the promise that the licensor will market the end product for them. This only works of course, if the licensor is a marketer and not an academic (as is mostly the case). The people contacting us for help at the moment appear to have very little growing experience (in anything), and have just planted the wasabi as instructed and now expect the return they were promised.
This business model reminds me of a scheme in New Zealand many years ago where Watercress was the plant of the month. After convincing a lot of retirees to part with their money for a small greenhouse and seeds over a couple of years, the licensor shut down operations and left people to fend for themselves. Needless to say, most of these small operations just disappeared with the retirees money.
On this website and in a number of previous articles I have always emphasised the importance of finding and gaining access to a market with paying customers BEFORE setting up a wasabi farm. YOU must be the marketer of your product. I know that people don’t like to think of themselves as sales people, but if you are in business that is exactly what you are.
Become a member of the Wasabi Growers Club and keep track of what is going on. There are a number of articles and training modules about growing and more are being added.
If you are really interested in becoming a Wasabi Grower (it looks like the window of opportunity for the US market has just opened – LOL), then become a member of the Wasabi Growers Club and get the truth about Growing Wasabi and not the BS you will find elsewhere.
Michel Van Mellaerts (The Wasabi Maestro) is the recognized World authority and expert on the practical Growing, Processing and Marketing of Wasabia japonica. He and his wife have been commercially growing Wasabia japonica longer than anyone else outside Japan.
Trained as an Engineer he has invented and installed many improved growing systems into their farms. These enable high quality Wasabi to be grown anywhere in the World.
The Wasabi Maestroes have set up commercial Wasabi growing farms from the Arctic Circle to Southern New Zealand, including the Equator. They have worked with individual growers, national governments, and investment groups on four continents.
These growing systems have reduced growing times by nearly 67%, improved yield and quality of the Wasabi rhizome, and increased the levels of active ingredients by nearly 100%. It is these active ingredients that independent scientific studies show kills cancer cells and improves human health.
They pioneered the use of Wasabia japonica in the Nutraceutical and Medical industries. They are at the leading edge of research into the benefits of Wasabi on human and animal health.
The Wasabi Maestroes offer a Training and Consultancy service for potential and actual Wasabi growers who only want to learn from the best. Others spend their time floundering around trying to find out what information is useful and what isn’t.
The Training has been proven and improved over the last 20 years plus of personal commercial Wasabi growing. This has been hands on, getting wet and dirty work – not guesswork from behind a desk.
More information on the Wasabi Growers Club 70+ Training Modules can be found here.
Use the Contact Form on the side to get hold of us.