The history of TableMark started with the shrimp and dried sardine processing business in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan.
At that time, Japan was enjoying a period of rapid economic growth and faced a labor shortage for the preparation of school and workplace meals, which imposed an urgent need for simplified cooking operations. In response, we developed and released frozen fried shrimps, which are quick-frozen in order to ensure they are ready-to-cook. Quick-cooking frozen fried shrimps were well-received and admired due to the shortage in staff among meal providers.
We commenced the development of frozen Sanuki Udon with a desire to offer people throughout Japan the delights of Sanuki Udon noodles, which is the local food of our home prefecture, Kagawa. However, other parts of Japan were unfamiliar with Sanuki Udon and sales of frozen Sanuki Udon were initially very low.
Despite this, by visiting a number of udon noodle restaurants to study flour combinations with the aim of introducing this regional specialty to the public, we continued our efforts to improve the distinct taste of Sanuki Udon – including the firm and elastic texture and smooth sensation that is easy to swallow. We also patiently continued our efforts toward sales through food sampling at nationwide supermarkets for nearly a decade, and, finally, frozen Sanuki Udon was made known and recognized across Japan.
Today, frozen Sanuki Udon has grown to be one of the best-selling frozen food categories in Japan and it is a core product of TableMark, selling over 500 million packs per year.
Until that time, conventional frozen foods were generally designed for deep-frying or baking and ready-made frozen foods dedicated to microwave cooking released by TableMark brought a major change to the cooking method of frozen foods. For the ease of cooking, taste, and wide variety, TableMark's frozen foods for microwave cooking have been universally used as everyday meals, kids' lunch boxes, snacks, and more.
Foreseeing a shift from "the era of self-cooking to the era of purchasing," even with rice, the most important staple food for Japanese, we commenced the development of packed cooked rice that can be cooked by microwave oven in minutes. To make delicious rice, the utmost importance was placed on delicious water, and so we constructed dedicated factories in Uonuma, Niigata, which has abundant sources of natural underflow water. At the factories, the delicious water is used for all processes from rice washing to immersion and boiling. Besides water, the production of our delicious packed cooked rice was made possible by the proprietary two-step heating method, consisting of a "pressurized heating" step that pressurizes and heats the white rice surface before boiling and a "steam boiling" process for each tray. Today, over 300 million packs of TableMark's packed cooked rice have been sold in Japan.
Okonomiyaki is a local food familiar to the western part of Japan, especially in Osaka. While okonomiyaki is conventionally offered at specialized restaurants or hand-made in home kitchens, our frozen okonomiyaki can be preserved in a freezer and simply cooked in a microwave oven. We visited okonomiyaki restaurants a number of times to reproduce the workmanship of experienced okonomiyaki chefs in our factory and we studied their tastes and the techniques of mixing ingredients and forming the okonomiyaki shape.
Thanks to those efforts, our “Gottsu-Umai Okonomiyaki” was released in 1999. By offering a real taste comparable to hand-made okonomiyaki in a paper dish along with all the special sauce and other required seasonings in a single package for consumer convenience, it became an unprecedented megaseller. It still holds the top share in the market and has been one of TableMark's staple products for over 20 years.
Following this, microwavable frozen takoyaki featuring the round shape of the handmade style was also released. As with frozen okonomiyaki, the frozen takoyaki package containing a paper dish and seasonings, i.e. special sauce, is still a highly-acclaimed product of TableMark.
As hotels started to suffer a shortage of patissiers in the late 1990's, in response to chefs' expectations for more variety and greater aesthetics in desserts, we released a frozen free-cut cake that offers an authentic taste simply by thawing. In 2003, we also released a frozen Swiss Roll meticulously rolled-up by hand. We continued our pursuit of authentic cream production techniques, manual production processes at factories, and full-fledged product development by patissiers, and TableMark has become one of the leading suppliers of frozen desserts in Japan.
TableMark succeeded in the development of a proprietary fermentation method combining our own fermentation and freezing techniques acquired over time, and bakery techniques of group companies. With this method, we released greatly improved-quality frozen baked breads that preserve the taste of freshly-baked bread even after room-temperature thawing without spoiling the texture.
As it allows delicious and authentic breads to be provided with much less effort, our frozen baked bread received high acclaim for hotel breakfasts and buffet use, which has the requirement of streamlined operations and authentic taste. Today, our frozen baked bread varieties, e.g. baguettes and pain de mie, have become valued components of not only hotel buffet services but also restaurants and cafés.
Cutting-edge factories for TableMark's staple products - frozen Udon and packed cooked rice - were constructed in Uonuma, Niigata, where there are rich sources of quality water, and operations commenced at these factories in 2010.
With substantial labor-saving automated operations, these factories jointly produce about 57,000 packs of frozen udon and about 16,000 packs of packed cooked rice per hour (as of October 2019). They are model factories of the evolving TableMark Group equipped with advanced traceability systems, food safety management with food defense measures, and production management systems that collect production condition data, etc.