On September 26, 2021, SUGIMOTO Co., Ltd. from Miyazaki Prefecture set up a booth at the Vegandale Food Drink Festival, an outdoor food event held in NYC, to promote and conduct marketing research for their Japanese Dried Shiitake “DONKO”.
The Vegandale Food Drink Festival is aimed primarily at vegans and vegetarians. It is one of the most significant food events on the East Coast, held annually in major cities across North America. Many visitors are full-fledged “long-time vegans and vegetarians” rather than “occasional vegan eaters.” Almost all the vendors and visitors are non-Japanese. The Vegandale Food Drink Festival is one of the best places to learn about the reputation of Japanese food products aiming to enter the US market.
“Natural, but so delicious!” SUGIMOTO Shiitake Stands Out From the Crowd
The event was held at Randall’s Island Park, located on Randall’s Island, a small island between the three boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, and Bronx in the northern part of New York City. On the day of the event, more than 100 vendors lined the vast grounds, attracting a large number of visitors. On behalf of Sugimoto Co., Ltd., we opened a booth as “SUGIMOTO Shiitake” with our overseas expansion support team and cooking staff.
The menu was “Zen Minestrone soup,” in which SUGIMOTO Shiitake’s Dried Shiitake DONKO was used as the main ingredient. Inspired by Shojin Ryori, the traditional cooking style of Buddhist monks, SUGIMOTO Shiitake created this original recipe in collaboration with Texas-based vegan cooking chef Hannah Kaminsky. If you’d like to taste for yourself, ※the recipe is public and anyone can make it!
The soup is made from dried shiitake mushrooms that have been rehydrated overnight in cold water, and the ingredients include not only the company’s DONKO shiitake mushrooms, but plenty of other produce including celery, edamame, and tomatoes. The soup is seasoned with white miso paste and lemon juice to accentuate its bold flavor.
Worldwide Acclaim for DONKO Dried Shiitake!
There were such lovely customer reviews such as;
“It was the best vendor I’ve encountered today. All the ingredients were natural and delicious.”
“I liked the taste of the shiitake mushroom broth. It is made really slowly and carefully. I’d like to try it again, but where are the stores?”
“It’s amazing that you can make such a delicious soup without using additives.”
“It would be great if there were more places in NYC where you could eat this kind of food!”
“Where can I buy these shiitake mushrooms?”（When I told him that he could buy them on Amazon, he took a picture of the package with his phone）
The marketing research team also conducted interviews with customers who purchased the product, and this provided us with valuable feedback. Some customers also compared this product with dried shiitake mushrooms from China, which are already available in New York, and the difference in taste was obvious. “The richness of the flavor is totally different – it is thick and delicious,” they said, surprised by the appeal of SUGIMOTO Shiitake. We are currently editing a short movie about the event, which we look forward to sharing with you once it’s finished!