Making a Valuable Impact in Japan

Being well and truly rooted in Japanese society as a Dutch family business comes naturally to the VanDrie Group.


The Japanese value high-quality products. Veal is a perfect match. For a number of years now, our companies have been permitted to export veal to Japan. The principle product sent to this market is veal tongue, which isn’t that popular in Europe. The Japanese, on the other hand, see it as a pure delicacy. Ekro, one of our veal processors, has embraced a rather special social initiative in Japan’s city Sendai. Paul Beltman, Sales Manager at Ekro, explains:

“We’ve joined forces with a very special partner in Sendai, called Eimu Watari. Eimu Watari is a sheltered workshop where people with poor opportunities in the labour market, often with physical or mental disabilities, are given the chance to participate fully in the labour process. Under professional supervision, their employees process veal tongue into an end product destined for the catering industry and consumer market.“

In Sendai, veal tongue is an important ingredient for the local specialty Gyutan (牛 タ ン), a dish of thinly sliced beef or veal tongue prepared over a charcoal grill. The meat is usually served with pickled vegetables, but tongue-based curries and stews are also very popular. The dish was first created in 1948 when a yakitori restaurateur in Sendai decided to devote his efforts exclusively to the preparation of tongue. The dish is now common throughout Japan and features prominently in its cuisine.

The Eimu Watari project creates value for both parties: it makes a difference for a great number of people.

One of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations to which the VanDrie Group wants to contribute to is 'decent work and economic growth for everyone’. Paul elaborates: “The Eimu Watari project creates value for both parties: it makes a difference for a great number of people. We try to combine our economic impact with inclusiveness. It forms the basis for a lasting relationship of which we can be proud!”

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