Megmi Farm Vegan Baker
Megmi Farm is a vegan bakery in Kumamoto, which is a city on the Japanese island of Kyushu.
Their focus is making “Shoku-pan” using local ingredients from local producers in their area. “Shoku-pan” is Japanese loaf bread, sometimes referred to as “Hokkaido milk bread”!
Fillet helps Megmi Farm to calculate their cost of production each day.
About Megmi Farm
How did you start your business?
In 2003, I started greenhouse agriculture and grew tomatoes etc. Also, I started to grow white leek and onions etc outdoors. However, I closed the other company I owned because of the Kumamoto Earthquake in 2016. Half of the greenhouse’s workspace was broken, and it took a whole year to clean it up and rebuild it.
In the meantime, I was developing various agricultural products using our bakery’s oven. It took some trial and error, but I was finally able to produce our bread products using ingredients from local sources — which brings me to today.
Why did you decide to have a vegan food business and make bread “without using animal materials”?
At first, I made bread using milk and butter from Aso, which is famous for dairy farming. However, the cost was high. Also, even though Aso is a village, it has the largest number of bakeries in our region. I had to try to be different from others, so I started using vegetables: Kinako-pan (roasted soybean flour bread), An-pan (red bean paste bread) and Goma-pan (sesame bread).
Currently, we focus on our Shoku-pan (loaf bread) because customers keep coming back for it! It might seem to be the most basic bread, but it’s our hot-selling product. Our shoku-pan is made from whole wheat flour, which has a lot of dietary fiber, or other local flours.
Who are your main customers?
Patients from hospitals and the customers from Michi-no-eki. (Michi-no-eki is a network of over 1,000 roadside rest areas, located all over Japan. You can find them along national highways. They provide support for your road travels like free parking and restrooms. They also have food markets and restaurants featuring local food and souvenirs.)
Why do you focus on selling only online? Are you planning to set up a physical store?
I have never had a retail store. I started by selling my products at the Michi-no-eki, and I also sell at a small shop in a local hospital.
I started getting a large number of telephone orders from hospital patients who couldn’t visit my shop. So I opened an online store!"
Local ingredients, local suppliers
How did your farm work? Do you grow and use your own ingredients?
When I was growing wheat and vegetables, I used them for the other company I used to own. But now, I work on agriculture less and focus on making bread using local ingredients.
How do you choose suppliers for your ingredients? How do you source your ingredients from (local) suppliers?
I buy my flour from a local wheat vendor who grows local wheat. I buy other ingredients from nearby grocery stores or online.
Daily operations & future plans
What is the most difficult part of your work?
I cannot take a day off.
What is the happiest part of your work?
Ever since I suffered from the huge earthquake, whenever nothing happens and everything is very normal and ordinary, I feel happy.
What are some daily challenges of operating your business?
I’m ok with keeping the status quo, but I’d like to automate more things so I can take a day off.
What is your plan or goal in the future?
Some customers visit our factory, so I’d like to make a retail store which can handle their orders to-go. I’d also like to hire more, so that might expand our scale of operations.
How Megmi Farm uses Fillet
What is your favorite Fillet feature and why?
The cost calculation features are convenient when developing products. Also, the feature to convert recipes to the number of people ("Scale") is very convenient.
For cost calculation, you can calculate the unit production cost based on the amount of the recipe. You simply enter the ingredients purchased and the purchase price. Then you can convert the recipe to the number of people or portions. You simply entering the quantity according to your production amount of the day.
Which Fillet feature do you use frequently, and why?
I use the Yield feature every day. It is very useful because it calculates cost of production for the day.
How has Fillet improved your business operations?
I still haven't managed to use all the features on the app! There are a lot of them.
That said, I share my recipes with other staff which helps us to stabilize the quality of our products.
Fillet is now essential for us. We’re working on using all the features! Thank you!
Thank you very much to Megmi Farm’s owner-operator, Mr. Tomoyuki Kobayashi, for doing this interview with us!