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Hakodate Carl Raymon is a ham and
sausage producer with a dedication not only to quality but also authentic
manufacturing that makes it a long-time favorite of the locals in Hakodate,
Hokkaido, where it was founded over 98 years ago.
established his business in 1925 in the hopes of making the Japanese people
healthier and stronger through food, while also pursuing his dream of
transforming Hokkaido into a land of circular livestock farming. In 1983, the
company became part of the NH Foods Group —
one of Japan’s most renowned food manufacturers — and is leveraging this synergy
to become the business that Carl Raymon had always envisioned.
Hakodate Carl Raymon still uses the exact same ham- and sausage-making
traditions of its founder. To understand the roots of this brand value, we must
go back in time to learn about the life of Carl Raymon himself.
While visiting Japan in 1919, Raymon was introduced as a meat-processing
specialist to Earl Yasutoshi Yanagisawa — an executive at Toyo Seikan
Kaisha, Ltd — who invited Raymon to
provide guidance for a year. The earl told him that the Japanese people must
gain greater skill and physical strength — which would require eating more foods
such as dairy products, ham and sausage. Raymon took him up on his offer and
provided expertise at the Toyo Seikan headquarters in Tokyo to help them
produce ham and sausages.
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After the year was over, Raymon went to Hakodate to work for Sale and Fraser
Company — which provided packaging to Toyo Seikan — to lend his expertise on
can manufacturing and check defective products. Raymon opened a small store in
Hakodate where he manufactured and sold ham and sausage to help achieve
Yasutoshi Yanagisawa’s dream. This was, however, an era when such foods were not
so familiar to Japanese people; so, they didn’t sell very well. But Raymon’s
determination never wavered.
“If people have plenty of food and a comfortable home, they can live a carefree
life. The same goes for a country. Not needing to worry about food supply is the
ideal state to encourage economic development, and is the most basic and
important factor to bring about the independence and freedom of human culture
and the nation.”
Raymon had another dream he wanted to realize in Hokkaido: his Hokkaido
Development Concept — which would make the island into a capital for the
To work towards that dream, in the autumn of 1925, he submitted a plan called
the “Food and Self-sufficiency System” to the Hokkaido Prefectural
Office. It was, however, not accepted.
At the time, Hokkaido was being developed based on a national policy called the
Hokkaido Development Plan. At the second stage in 1923, right after the
the government recruited people to migrate to Hokkaido with a focus on dairy
for milk, butter and cheese production. They had not, however, considered
creating processed meat products such as ham and sausage — as in Japan, there
was no custom of eating these foods and no meat-processing expertise to make
With his small shop struggling and his vision for Hokkaido dashed, Raymon
returned to Hakodate and spent three years there. Then, in 1928, the German
navy’s Emden II warship called at Hakodate — the entire crew visited
Raymon’s shop and bought all the products Raymon could offer, and put him in
charge of procuring the rest of their food, too. Thanks to this, Raymon’s
business recovered and he was able to save up funds. Around 1929, meat was
becoming a more common part of the ordinary Japanese diet; and Raymon’s products
started selling. Soon after, he decided to build a large factory in
Goryokaku, Hakodate, to process fresher meat.
The next year (1931), a group of 14 experts from the prefectural office led by
the governor visited his factory. After the tour, Governor Shinichi Sagami
then asked Raymon to come up with another plan for the development of Hokkaido —
reawakening Raymon’s dream for his Hokkaido Development Concept. He submitted a
new Food and Self-sufficiency System plan that proposed the construction of a
semipermanent, sustainable “circular livestock system” in Hokkaido — which would
ensure a stable food supply, employment and livelihoods for local people. Yet,
despite the governor himself requesting this plan, it was rejected again.
Yet Raymon did not lose heart. In 1932, two years after opening his Goryokaku
factory, he began constructing a factory in Ono (part of modern day
Hokuto city) in cooperation with local farmers; and it became a major ham
and sausage production center featuring everything from housing, barns, pasture
and silos to a slaughterhouse — a miniature version of his Hokkaido Development
Concept. The factory’s success became known by farmers near and far. In 1935,
Raymon was contacted by the Kwantung Army and South Manchuria Railway,
saying that they needed his help breeding livestock in Manchukuo. Raymon saw
this chance to bring his development concept for livestock to life in the wider
lands of Manchuria. In various parts of Manchuria, he opened 10 trial stations
for livestock that had both facilities for rearing animals and for creating ham
and sausage. Raymon returned to Hakodate in 1938 feeling very enthused by his
What awaited him in Hakodate was poor treatment by the Hokkaido government. The
government decided to give the Hokkaido Dairy Sales Association, known as
Rakuren, a monopoly on meat processing in Hokkaido. When Raymon was summoned
to the prefectural office, he was given a contract telling him to sell his Ono
factory to Rakuren for 50,000 yen (equivalent to around 40 million yen today) —
a forced buyout. The contract also stipulated that, from then on, he was no
longer allowed to produce ham and sausage.
With no other choice, Raymon bought a small house in Hakodate’s Motomachi
district and lived a quiet life with his wife and three-year-old daughter.
Before long, war broke out; and the family was forced to fight against
undeserved persecution and discrimination, which lasted until Japan was defeated
in 1945. Even after experiencing persecution and forced forfeiture of his assets
by the government, Raymon remained in Hakodate and campaigned for peace —
continuing to call for European unity. In 1950, Raymon designed and proposed a
flag with a star to represent European unity; and this formed the underlying
concept of the current EU flag.
These days, the Hakodate Carl Raymon factory is still infused with the
dedication and determination of those times. One factory employee said, “Nothing
has changed about the way we work since Raymon was in charge. We continue to
respect and follow his philosophy of ham- and sausage-making. I grew up here
loving these sausages and wanted to work in the factory; so, I’m really happy.”
They follow Raymon’s philosophy: “Food must be kind to the body. It’s important
to feel like a mother cooking for her children. That’s why the factory is like a
kitchen.” To this day, the company manufactures products using only the freshest
Hokkaido meat with no excess additives or preservatives. The careful,
handcrafting techniques have been scaled up — enabling the company to deliver
products to even more people while continuing to follow Carl Raymon’s ideals. It
is a steadfast way of working that is spreading from Hakodate throughout Japan —
where local residents participate both as consumers and producers.
Published Nov 20, 2023 8am EST / 5am PST / 1pm GMT / 2pm CET
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.