Authentic sushi with a twist
ichiban UK Limited, based in Suffolk, is the UK’s largest sushi producer, and combines authentic Japanese rice cooking methods with some of the favourite flavours of the British consumer
ichiban UK Limited aims to build and maintain a customerfocused business that provides high quality and innovative sushi and it wants its products to inspire and appeal to consumers across all sections of society. ichiban is a Japanese word meaning ‘Number one’ and it prides itself on providing every customer with what it considers to be the best possible sushi product, and believes that quality should never be compromised. In order to ensure this standard is never strayed from the company has round the clock assessors at the facility, and its site maintains the highest BRC accreditation level (Double A), as well as a five star EHO food safety rating. The products themselves combine the traditional Japanese methods of sushi production with modern flavours aimed at a UK market, which has helped the business to bring sushi to an increasingly growing number of consumers.
It has a team of experts that understand both sushi and the demands of the customer, this ensures that its portfolio of products always remain at the forefront of the market. The company offers a large sushi range of different types that can act as a quick snack or as a substantial lunch, which provides the market with something that both looks beautiful and is exciting to eat, making it a genuine alternative to sandwiches.
In addition to it being a more interesting meal than traditional lunch options in the UK, ichiban’s sushi also appeals to the growing demand for healthy foods. Similarly, there are an increasing number of consumers in the UK that are concerned with gluten. ichiban is targeting this demographic with a range of products, and one of which has been successful and received several awards as head of commercial Karen Mitchell elaborated: “We have been shortlisted this year for two separate Q Awards, both for our gluten-free Tesco chicken and katsu sauce sushi rice box. The market for gluten-free products is growing significantly year-on-year, whether from a health or lifestyle choice. We realised there was an obvious gap within the Tesco food-to-go range for a good gluten-free option.”
The awards demonstrate ichiban’s constant desire to create interesting products that are targeted at what itscustomers want and this has been at the heart of the company’s values since its beginning. It believes in combiningauthentic Japanese methods of sushiwith flavours that are popular in the UK, helping to create sushi designed with the consumer’s tastes at the centre. This has clearly been an overwhelming success, as ichiban is now the largest UK producer of sushi.
Cooking by hand ichiban believes that it is essential to retain certain authenticities when making sushi, otherwise the flavour will suffer, and that is why the company continues to make itsrice in the traditional method, which managing director Andrew Wilkinsonelaborated upon: “A key strengthof the business is the quality of the product, and in order for customers to buy it again it must have the best raw materials, and the quality of our sushi rice is absolutely key to this. We have first learnt and then successfully implemented all the tips, tricks, and techniques needed to help us produce the best quality authentic Japanese sushi rice here in England, all of which is hand cooked in traditional rice ovens in five kilogramme batch sizes using individual pots.”
The philosophy of ichiban is not just of creating high quality and innovative sushi, it also believes in doing so in an environmentally responsible manner. This is why it has invested heavily to create a business that follows a green philosophy. Its factory, located in Earl Stonham, Suffolk, has seen a number of improvements to help reduce its carbon footprint, some of which Andrew stated: “We installed a brand new biomass boiler to remove the need for us to use 300,000 litres of kerosene, which has meant we now use none at all. Also, all our hot water is heated by woodchip, and we have replaced all our factory lights with LED lighting, throughout the business we have become very green orientated.” Its success in this area has also been recognised with awards, which Karen explained: “We were very honoured to receive the accolade of Suffolk’s Greenest Business this year – the award is designed to acknowledge regional businesses that have activelydemonstrated and implemented positive environmental changes. One of our key business aims remains to continuously reduce our carbon footprint and overall environmental impact.”
Due to ichiban having won a number of awards for its products and the approach it has taken to be a greener business, the company is clearly leading the market in many ways. This was further demonstrated when it was shortlisted for a second business award in 2016 by the East Anglian Daily Times, and on this achievement Karen said: “It was a real triumph and cements a successful year of industry wide recognition.” ichiban is determined to build on this success with more investments into its site, which will ensure the company has the capacity and capabilities in place to meet the growing demand for sushi. All of the awards, new products, and expanding facilities no doubt suggest that ichiban will continue to be the first choice sushi provider in the UK for many years to come.