Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:24 pm
The effort to establish Milwaukee as a global hub of freshwater research, technology and innovation received another boost today when Kikkoman Foods Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Kikkoman Corp., announced that it will make a $1 million contribution to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to, “advance the study of safe and sustainable drinking water.”
The announcement was made as part of Kikkoman’s 40th anniversary celebration of the opening of its plant in Walworth. The company is hosting the Wisconsin-U.S.-Japan economic conference at The Abbey Resort in Fontana as part of its 40th anniversary celebration. About a dozen members of the Japanese news media covering the conference attended the press conference announcing Kikkoman’s gift to UWM.
The contribution to UWM will be used to establish the Kikkoman Healthy Waters Environmental Health Laboratories in the university’s College of Life Sciences. The new Kikkoman laboratories at UWM will be located in the School of Freshwater Sciences building overlooking the Milwaukee Harbor. UWM is in the middle of a $53 million expansion of that facility.
“The gift from Kikkoman will significantly enhance these facilities,” said UWM Chancellor Mike Lovell. “World class research,” will be done in the Kikkoman laboratories, Lovell said.
“Milwaukee has become one of the world’s leading centers of fresh water research, education and industry,” said Mitsuo Someya, chief executive officer, president and corporate officer of Kikkoman Corp. “We believe the research being conducted at UW-Milwaukee may help solve some of the most critical water stewardship issues facing us today. It will also spur economic growth through the development and commercialization of new water-related technologies.”
Lovell pointed out that access to fresh water is a critical component of Kikkoman’s business.
“You can’t make great soy sauce without clean, fresh water,” he said.
Kikkoman opened the plant in Walworth in 1973. The facility is the company’s U.S. manufacturing headquarters and at 700,000 square feet is the largest naturally-brewed soy sauce plant in the world, according to the company. The company has 170 employees at the plant.
The Walworth plant has become the foundation of the company’s international business, which now accounts for nearly half of Kikkoman’s total sales.
Kikkoman Foods makes about 35 different liquid and powder products and all are either a version of soy sauce or include soy sauce as an ingredient.
The company said it built the plant in Walworth because of its ample supply of groundwater, its central location for distribution in North America, its proximity to soybean and wheat growing regions, and the area’s hardworking workforce.
“Some people doubted a Japanese company could grow a successful business in the upper Midwest,” Someya said. “We have proved those doubters wrong. Kikkoman will always be grateful for our partnership with the state of Wisconsin. We are proud to be a Wisconsin company.”
“Thank you to Kikkoman for being here,” said Gov. Scott Walker, who also said the state and Great Lakes region have “both a moral and economic imperative,” to protect its freshwater resources.