Ajinomoto Co., Inc. (TYO: 2802), is a Japanese food and chemical corporation which produces seasonings, cooking oils, frozen foods, beverage, sweeteners, amino acids, and pharmaceuticals.
AJI-NO-MOTO (???, "essence of taste") is the trade name for the company’s original monosodium glutamate (MSG) product.
The company's head office is located in Chuo, Tokyo.
Ajinomoto operates in 35 countries, employing around 32,734 people as of 2017. Its yearly revenue in the fiscal year of 2017 stands at around US$10.5 billion.
In 1909, Ajinomoto Co. Inc. released their fundamental food product, the umami seasoning "AJI-NO-MOTO®". In Japan, they continued exploring various markets, including producing edible oil in 1935, consommé in 1962, soups in 1964, mayonnaise in 1968, frozen foods in 1972, and coffee in 1973. At the same time, the company continued their expansion overseas. In Southeast Asia, along with building a reputation for their original technology and scientific know-how, sales channels were established at first through their umami seasoning, "AJI-NO-MOTO®". Following this, they successively expanded into high value-added products such as flavor seasonings, menu-specific seasonings, and frozen foods.
The main product "AJI-NO-MOTO®" was first marketed in Japan in 1909, the main ingredient of which was monosodium glutamate (MSG). AJI-NO-MOTO is used not only in homes and restaurants, but also in various processed foods. Currently, it is sold in more than 100 countries and regions. The main ingredients are molasses and tapioca starch which can be taken from sugarcane. It is produced by a method of fermentation that uses the local raw materials of each country. Although the packaging and size of the products are different in each country, the red bowl mark and "AJI-NO-MOTO®" product name is ubiquitous around the world.
In 1970, "HON-DASHI®" was launched in Japan as a flavor seasoning, featuring bonito taste which was popular in Japan. Although the flavor seasoning was exported to several countries, with the launch of “Ross Dee” in Thailand, in 1979, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. began to take local consumer tastes, eating habits, and lifestyles into account. As they continued to evolve their brand, they developed products that utilized locally produced raw materials, resulting in products that were better oriented to the local consumer. While being predominantly developed for specific markets, some products are exported to neighboring countries, such as the Brazilian flavor seasoning, “Sazon,” which is exported to Argentina and Chile.
In the menu-specific seasoning market, in Japan, in 1978, Ajinomoto Co., Inc. released "Cook Do®", a series of Chinese seasoning products that corresponded to various popular dishes in China, but which were developed to suit Japanese tastes and cooking styles. They were able to further develop their core business through such flavor seasonings. Overseas, making use of the sales networks built through the umami seasoning " AJI-NO-MOTO®," the company continued to develop products suitable for consumers' preferences, dietary needs, and lifestyles, mainly in growth markets such as Asia and South America. Much the same as Japan, sales have been rapidly expanding in recent years, particularly through the development of fried chicken flavorings and other various local dishes.
With regard to processed foods, the main products developed by Ajinomoto co., Inc. are soup, mayonnaise, porridge, pasta sauce, and instant noodles. In Japan, soup was released under the "Knorr® brand" in 1964, in Taiwan and Brazil in 2005, and under the “VONO®” brand name in Korea in 2006. The first sales of their mayonnaise in Japan began in 1968, expanding to Vietnam in 2005, and Indonesia in 2012. Rice porridge was released in Japan as part of a series of retort foods in 1988. In addition, through their partnership with Kellogg in the USA, for nearly 50 years, the company has become the main sales vehicle for Kellogg's products in Japan. As for instant noodles, beginning in 1973 with their first overseas expansion to Thailand, Ajinomoto co., Inc. now produce noodles in Brazil, Peru, India, and Poland. In Peru, they also entered the cup noodle market in 2016.Before the eventual publicity, the conglomerate was founded on Ikeda's work: it was the first to suggest that industrially purified glutamic acid salts, residues or analogues, originally found in seaweed or dried fish-based broth, might have a characteristic taste of its own. That idea was rapidly connected to the much older Japanese, culinary term of umami. This led to early adoption of MSG as a culinary agent in Japan. Ajinomoto is the world's largest manufacturer of MSG.
Ajinomoto group entered the frozen food business in 1972 and went on to expand into an integrated sales company in 2000 in Japan, founding Ajinomoto Frozen Foods Co., Ltd. They established companies for frozen foods business in Thailand in 2004 and in China in 2014. and in 2014 acquired Windsor Quality Holdings Co., Ltd., the No. 1 frozen food supplier of Asian food in the United States. They expanded their line-up of dumplings, noodles, cooked rice etc. Following that, in April 2015 they integrated their North American businesses by establishing Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc., and in 2018 changed the name to Ajinomoto Foods North America, Inc. Today, Ajinomoto holds 31% of the North American Asian frozen food market, the largest in the U.S. They have continued to strengthen their global production and sales structure, including the establishment of Ajinomoto Jawo Sp. z o.o, a joint venture in Poland in 2014, and the acquisition of French Labeyrie Traiteur Surgelés S.A.S. in France in 2017.