バレンタインデーの季節ですが,ちょっと面白い記事を発見したので読んでみました.今回は Japan Times の記事です.出典はこちら:The logistics of a luxury Valentine’s
by Angela Erika Kubo(写真付きです)

Advances in technology have made it possible for people as far away as Japan to enjoy the best of France’s chocolate delights.

“We can send our product quickly by airplane and it will arrive in
just two or three days,” says Clément Groisne, managing director at the
Japan office of Parisian chocolate maker Hugo & Victor. “Unlike in
the past, we can instantly freeze chocolate the moment we’re done making
it. We can easily preserve the quality of the ingredients, and it’s
hard to tell the difference in taste between fresh chocolates and
chocolates that have been frozen.”


However, despite the availability of a freezer and a short plane
ride, importing chocolate in time for Valentine’s Day still gives
Groisne a headache every year. Department stores’ strict standards on
everything from the quality of the chocolate to the packaging make it
difficult for even the best patisseries in Paris to break into the
Japanese market.

“Our criteria for choosing a chocolate maker is someone who has skill
and has already created a lot of buzz with his product,” says Teruhiko
Kawaguchi, a food buyer for Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd.

At Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, which hosts an annual event
called Salon du Chocolat in January, not just any old brand is good
enough for the chocolate lovers who come from all over Japan. Buyers
narrow down their choices by looking at past winners of the Un des
Meilleurs Ouvriers de France triennial competition or poring over
guidebooks published by the prestigious Club des Croqueurs de Chocolat
(Chocolate Appreciation Society).


「チョコレートメーカーを選ぶ我々の基準は,技術を有していて,すでにその商品に関して話題になっていることです.」と,伊勢丹三越の食品バイヤーであるカワグチ・テルヒコは言う.1月にサロン・ド・ショコラと呼ばれる毎年恒例のイベントを開いている新宿の伊勢丹百貨店では,老舗ブランドだけでは,日本全国から来るチョコレート好きの人たちを満足させるのに十分ではないという.バイヤーたちはUn des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France という3年に1度のコンテストを見たり,権威あるClub des Croqueurs de Chocolat が発行するガイドブックに注目することにより選択範囲を絞る.



Even then, being regarded as one the best chocolatiers in France or
having years of chocolate-molding experience does not guarantee you a
ticket to Japan.

“We try to look for chocolate makers who can adjust to the Japanese
consumer,” says Kawaguchi. “Even if you’re the best, if you think that
the packaging that the chocolate comes in is unimportant, you won’t be
able to do well here.”

In Japan, presentation is as important as taste, especially when it comes to impressing a significant other on Valentine’s Day.




“Packaging is very important. These days, more and more women are
also giving out chocolate to their friends, so they want products with
cute packaging,” says Kanako Otani, a food buyer for Shibuya Hikarie’s
ShinQs shopping section.

If it’s packaging that the Japanese want, then Hugo & Victor has
one less thing to worry about. Its chocolates at this year’s Salon du
Chocolat come in boxes that resemble hardcover books — a design that is
based on the fact that the name of the brand was inspired by French
writer Victor Hugo.



“In Japan, limited-edition products are popular, and consumers want
to see things that we usually don’t make in France,” says Groisne.

In a country where new flavors come and go on the convenience-store
shelves and sweet makers constantly scratch their heads as they think of
new products to entice customers, Hugo & Victor couldn’t have found
a better country to fit in. The patisserie takes the flavor of its
sweets seriously. While some of its chocolates are available throughout
the year, others are switched out every two months depending on what is
in season to ensure fresh, quality ingredients. That concept works well
in Japan, where consumers prefer a bit of a variety.



Even without a shop to sell its products, Hugo & Victor has been
enjoying popularity in Japan since it started participating in Salon du
Chocolat in 2011. The brand is hoping to capitalize on this by opening a
store in Tokyo later this year. Its chocolates go for around ¥4,000 a
box of 12.

“In 2011, our stock sold out within three days, and we once had to
extend operations by 30 minutes because we still had waiting customers,”
says Groisne.

So when you’re chomping your imported chocs this Valentine’s, spare a little love for the people who brought them here.






The Japan Times Weekly