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Product, Service & Design Innovation
Hakodate Carl Raymon:
100 Years of Trust, Dedication and Creating Shared Value

The Japanese ham and sausage producer still uses the production 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.

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.

Entrepreneur Carl Weidl-Raymon 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 livestock industry.

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 Great Kanto Earthquake, the government recruited people to migrate to Hokkaido with a focus on dairy farming 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 them.

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 success.

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.