Pizza 4P’s is trying to carry out environmentally-conscious projects step by step in order to achieve the vision “Make the World Smile for Peace”. We started our original article series “Peace for Earth” focusing on such sustainable projects in our company.
The topic of this article will focus on Natural Sake. As this might be an unfamiliar product to most of our Guests, we would like to highlight the reasons behind our decision to be the first company to import this special product from Niida-Honke brewery. We will share a little bit about the process, as well as the sustainability impacts of this particular product.
A Self-Sufficient Sake Brewery in Fukushima, Japan
As a brand with a “Earth-to-People” philosophy, we truly admire Niida-honke’s commitment to being in harmony with nature, using natural ingredients and traditional methods. Therefore, we decided to visit their brewery in Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. They have been operating for 310 years since 1711. The sake here is made from organic rice without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers, using the natural yeast and well water from their brewery to make their natural sake, which is good for both the body and the environment.
Rice as an ingredient plays an essential role in Sake production. Good, clean and pure rice produces excellent sake. Hence, it’s important to implement farming methods that bring out the best of the rice paddies and allow them to circulate for a long time. Modern farming methods such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers would damage the soil and the rice paddies. They also hope to spread the natural farming method to Koriyama, Fukushima and all over Japan.
Another benefit of growing rice naturally is that it attracts a lot of living things and preserves biodiversity. Insects come to the rice paddies, and birds come to eat the insects. The drainage from the rice paddies is also free of chemical substances, so the rivers are clean and the number of fish increases. Large animals also come to eat them. I believe that such a natural environment will become an asset to the community and to us. Leaving a rich natural environment for the next generation is also an important mission for those of us living in this generation.
Additionally, Niida-Honke is committed to becoming a self-sufficient brewery. Besides growing their own rice with the help of nature, they also use natural bacteria living in the brewery to make sake. They harvest cedar from their own forestland to make sake barrels. They use only natural water from this village. There are two veins of natural water: well water and spring water. The well water is hard water with a lot of minerals, which makes for relatively strong sake. Spring water is very soft, so sake brewed with this water has a very gentle taste. They also have plans to use as much of their own cedar, pine, and chestnut trees to rebuild the brewery. A brewery that is completely in tune with nature.
Not only a great product, but also a powerful story
With such a high level of admiration and love for their mission, values and process, we are so pleased to be importing their natural sake products to Vietnam. To be honest, this is not only an honor for us but also a challenge. With so many great things to communicate with our Guests about this product, we have to be thoughtful in the ways we share the information. We have to keep in mind that our guests are mostly Vietnamese and that sake is not a common drink in Vietnamese culture. Especially, when our Guests go to our restaurants, their first choice of beverage might not be sake. Our main reason for importing this natural sake is because it truly helps us achieve our vision of making the world smile for peace. It’s a great product with a powerful story. When our Creative team first tasted the sake, they were pleasantly surprised by how gentle and well-balanced the flavor was. The team could sense the efforts Niida-honke had put into this product. As a result, we all wanted our Guests to experience the same feeling. To get our Guests to try, we have to implement the sake into our menu somehow.
We started working with our Food Team to create a complimentary cheese pairing to enjoy with the natural sake. Our intention is to offer a more complete dining experience for our Guests. The natural Sake offers a subtle sweetness and pleasant alcohol taste. To pair with this, we have created 4P’s Miso-infused Mozzarella with a special ‘umami’ flavor. However, after several months of selling this cheese pairing set, we have decided to discontinue. This is due to low stock and production challenges in making the house-made cheeses. Currently, we are only selling Natural Sake on its own at our restaurants. We’d highly recommend our Guests to try this sake with our Assorted House-made Cheese platter.
We started to import natural sake in April 2021 and introduced the cheese pairing set in December 2021. There has been a 148% increase in sales as we offered natural sake with our house-made cheese. Additionally, we started to share more stories about the product on our social media, which may have helped our Guests to be more aware of this and engage with it better.
We have been sharing about this product in many different communication methods, both online and at stores. We printed POPs and put them on each table so that our Guests would know we have something special to offer at the moment. We also put a page in our menu, specifically designed for this product. For online communications, we’ve shared stories about the brewery, the awards that this natural sake has got, our Sake & Cheese set and how our Guests can enjoy, etc. These posts have all gotten a great amount of interactions and engagement (around 2,000-6,000 engagements including organic and paid). This shows that our communications are effective and we should continue sharing and reminding them about the great story behind this great product.
For us, consistency is key. That’s why we want to keep sharing about the many benefits and values of Niida-honke and their natural sake. The most important story we want to keep telling and spreading out is the sustainability efforts and commitments Niida-honke has put into their products. This in turn has created something absolutely flavorsome and beneficial for our bodies.
This story is also an inspiring example for us at 4P’s. We want to create and promote more products and experiences that truly show harmony with nature. The more sustainable actions we make, the more sustainable stories we tell, the closer we are to achieving our vision to “Make the World Smile for Peace”. The journey is still long but we are excited with this commitment.
How our Guests feel about Natural Sake
“This is my first time trying Sake as in Vietnam, Sake is not very popular. The taste is fruity, and easy to drink, especially for girls. I didn’t think Sake would go well with cheese because usually Sake is served with Japanese meals. I find that when it is served hot, the flavor and taste become more prominent. Hot sake is especially good in the cold weather at Hanoi.” – Ms. L shared.
“At first, I thought it was such a light and easy drink. The more I enjoy this sake, the more flavorsome it gets. I can almost taste the rice, there’s a very special flavor. It’s such a great experience when shared with cheese. Definitely a must try!” – Mr. D expressed.
“I was a little bit intimidated by the big bottle. However, there are other options which are suitable for a smaller group. I ordered it with two other friends and we were very impressed with the pleasant taste!” – Ms. C shared.
We’d like to thank all the Guests who have given this natural sake a chance and appreciated the hard work behind it. We hope that more Guests can try this and learn more about the story we’re trying to share!