Turn over a packet of Hakubaku’s organic Japanese noodles in a supermarket almost anywhere in Australia and you’ll read that they are proudly made in Ballarat.
Many Ballarat residents wouldn’t be aware the same neatly packaged organic Japanese noodles that are sold all over the world come out of a humble factory just down the road in Wendouree.
The Australian arm of Japanese noodle company Hakubaku has been making around 37,000 packets of noodles, that’s around 111,000 servings, each day in their Ballarat factory since 1998.
Hakubaku managing director Ryuji Nakamura joined the company in 2002. He originally moved to New Zealand in 1991 from his home in Japan and made the journey to Ballarat to take on a role as Hakubaku Australia’s sales manager 10 years later.
Ballarat people know us as a Japanese noodle factory and probably won’t connect to the product. It was big news when we first established here.Ryuji Nakamura, Hakubaku Australia managing director
Mr Nakamura used to live in Ballarat, but now travels to work from Melbourne each day, the city where his two adult children also live.
It’s Hakubaku’s organic certification that influenced the company’s decision to set up the factory in Ballarat.
To sell certified organic noodles, all ingredients must also be certified organic.
“Some huge pasta companies have their own flour milling facility but we needed to be close to an external milling facility and milling company. Then we found Allied Mills in Ballarat,” Mr Nakamura said.
“For us to be certified organic all the upstream needed to be certified organic. The farmers, the storage facility, the milling facility and this factory all need to be certified organic. Not many certified organic flour milling facilities exist in Australia.”
Hakubaku organic noodles are now the best selling organic noodles in Australia and the US.
About 35 per cent of the noodles made in Ballarat stay in Australia, selling at Coles, Woolworths, organic stores, and Asian grocers.
The remaining 65 per cent of the noodles produced are exported to mainly the US and Europe. Some Australian noodles are even sold in Japan for their certified organic label.
Hakubaku has its main headquarters in Japan, but the noodles made there are not certified organic.
“We are probably one of the largest organic noodle factories in the world,’ Mr Nakamura said. “I like to see growth, which we have seen especially in the past five or 10 years. But we would like to keep growing and open up new markets such as China.”
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