Japanese BBQ sauce brand’s fast growth attracts $13m buy in from prominent investment firm

Bachan’s​, a manufacturer of several variations of Japanese barbecue sauce, announced the fundraise this morning.  The round was led by investment firm Sonoma Brands Capital.

The company was founded by its CEO, Justin Gill, who named the firm after his grandmother, whose parents had moved to California from Japan (‘Bachan’ is an English rendering of a Japanese term of endearment for a grandmother).

Connection with customers

Gill said the sauce arose out of a community connection with customers, and that feeling carries over into the modern, industrial rendition of the product.

“Our sauce is truly a family heirloom, a tangible, flavorful inheritance of my Japanese ancestry. The recipe was brought here by my great grandparents when they immigrated from Japan. We used to make it together every year as a family and give it out to clients of our family landscape business. That is why it is personally special to me,” ​Gill told FoodNavigator-USA​.

To maintain both that feeling and those flavors, Gill said no expense was spared to source the best ingredients.  The sauces are based on mirin (rice wine) sourced from Japan and soy sauce brewed in a traditional manner.  And the sauces are not pasteurized, which is a step that can quench flavors in the bottle.

“We also use real ginger, garlic, and green onion. No powdered ingredients,” ​he said.

Bold flavors for evolving palates

Gill said the evolving American palate has brought a certain freedom to the manufacture of products like his. Gone are the days when a formulator would have to scratch his or her head to figure out how closely their products could match their ‘true’ flavor profiles without scaring off timorous mainstream American consumers.  Americans might not yet quite be citizens of the world, but their taste buds are increasingly leaning in that direction.

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