St. Cousair Co., Ltd. is a Nagano, Japan-based food and beverage producer, operating over 120 specialty stores under the private labels "St. Cousair." and "Kuze Fuku & Co." St. Cousair stores specialize in wines, jams, sauces and other western foods and beverages, while Kuze Fuku & Co. spotlights traditional country-style Japanese cuisine from regional producers all over the Japanese countryside.
IT ALL STARTED WITH JAM…
St. Cousair Co., Ltd.'s story dates back to the late 1970s, when founder Ryozo Kuze and his wife, Mayumi, operated a ski lodge in the mountains of Nagano Prefecture. Though the ski lodge was moderately successful, operating it while raising two boys was exhausting, and Ryozo and Mayumi soon decided to pursue a different path.
Ryozo attempted various odd jobs in an effort to raise money to feed his family, but none of them worked out. Then one day, Mayumi came across a farmer selling large amounts of apples that tasted great, but were badly shaped and couldn't be sold in supermarkets. They were cheap, so she bought them up, made homemade apple jam, and served it to the guests. It was an instant hit. Ryozo then devoted all his time to selling Mayumi's jam. Within a few years, they were able to sell the ski lodge and go into the jam business full time.
For several years, they made and sold jam from a rented property in the city. Then, in the late 1980s, Ryozo took out a loan from the bank and built a jam factory, a winery, and two restaurants on a hilltop not far from the ski lodge where they used to live. From there on out, there were difficult times, but eventually, the company grew, building over fifty retail stores across Japan. The St. Cousair store products started with jam and today include a wide variety of jams, sauces, pasta, dressings, wines, and spirits.
In 2013, while continuing to operate the St. Cousair stores, St. Cousair Co., Ltd. opened its first Kuze Fuku & Co. store in Nagano City. Named after Ryozo's father, who had been a wholesaler in postwar Tokyo, the new retail brand marked a major new course for the company, specializing in traditional Japanese cuisine produced by regional makers from all over the Japanese countryside. Kuze Fuku & Co.'s popularity grew at an astonishing pace, bringing long-forgotten and nostalgic broths, garnishes and other cooking ingredients to city-weary shoppers. Kuze Fuku & Co. stores now number over 70, with more planned openings to come.
In April of 2017, St. Cousair Co., Ltd. announced its most ambitious project yet: the acquisition of a food production facility in Oregon, in the United States of America. With the company soon reaching the limit of its production capabilities at its factory in Nagano, St. Cousair acquired Berry Noir Co-Packing in the town of Newberg, near Portland, with the plan of keeping the existing staff in place and using the facility to supplement its Nagano production. Renamed St. Cousair Oregon Orchards, production of food and beverages in the facility began the day after the acquisition, and products made there are already being sold at St. Cousair and Kuze Fuku & Co. stores in Japan. In the future, the company plans to use its Oregon base to bring St. Cousair and Kuze Fuku & Co. products to market in the United States, and eventually to the world.
And all of this started jam.