Sushi roll with soy sauce

Kikkoman Plans for $15.5 million Expansion in Wisconsin

Asia Japan

In April 2024, the governor of Wisconsin and the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation approved awarding up to $15.5 million in tax incentives to Japanese food manufacturer Kikkoman Foods to expand its facility operations in Jefferson and Walworth. Since 1973, Wisconsin has been home to the first US Kikkoman Foods factory and further investments from both sides signal a “long, prosperous partnership” for the future in Wisconsin.

On April 23, 2024, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation approved awarding up to $15.5 million in performance-based tax credits to assist Kikkoman Foods, the Japanese manufacturer specializing in soy sauce, in expanding operations worth at least $800 million in investments into the state. These investments will include the construction of a new production facility in Jefferson and further expansion of existing brewing facilities in Walworth, strengthening the decades-long relationship between Wisconsin and Kikkoman.

Walworth is the highest soy sauce producing facility in the world, and Kikkoman is keen to continue investing in Wisconsin to serve their North American clientele.

Kikkoman and Wisconsin

Kikkoman has had strong ties with Wisconsin since 1973 when they established their first overseas production plant in Walworth. The relationship has only grown since then.

Through the creation of the Kikkoman Foods, Inc. Foundation in 1993, Kikkoman has contributed more than $17 million to charitable causes to give back to the local community in Walworth and in Wisconsin. Kikkoman’s efforts have included educational scholarships and donations for science - including a $5 million grant to the University of Wisconsin-Madison in support of sustainable agriculture and freshwater studies in 2023. And in acknowledgement, Wisconsin celebrated Kikkoman’s commitment to furthering the collaboration and understanding between Wisconsin and Japan through the proclamation of June 9th as “Kikkoman Day” in 2023. Beyond Kikkoman, Wisconsin’s strong ties to Japan include 7 sister cities, as well as around $700 million in yearly exports from Wisconsin to Japan.

Upcoming Expansions and Impacts

The core of the 2024 expansion project lies with the new production facility in Jefferson. The construction for the new 240,000 square-foot facility for soy-sauce and soy-sauce related seasonings is set to start in June 2024 and first shipments are tentatively planned for fall 2026. Additionally, in line with Kikkoman’s commitment to sustainability and the Evers administration's goal of Wisconsin reaching net zero emissions by 2050, this new facility plans to install energy efficient equipment and utilize renewable energy to reduce CO2 emissions. Kikkoman also plans to expand its current brewing plant in Walworth.

This expansion is happy news for the locals in Walworth and Jefferson as it is expected to create 83 new high-paying jobs over the next 12 years. The facility will also act as a new local distribution center aimed at benefiting Wisconsin soybean farmers. In an interview to XWOW, Wisconsin Soybean Board Vice President Andy Bensend said “Wisconsin soybean farmers [had] to pay an arm and a leg to move their product to other states, and even other countries.” The new facility will increase demand for local soybeans and drive down transportation costs. As for Kikkoman, Yuzaburo Mogi, honorary chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Kikkoman Corp, remarked that the company plans to use its expanded facilities in Wisconsin to establish a supply chain with increased stability across its largest overseas market: North America.

The continued and consistent relationship between Wisconsin and Kikkoman shows Kikkoman’s willingness to collaborate, invest, and grow with the local community. And while the $15.5 million in tax incentives are performance based and the expansion has yet to break ground, the 51 years of favorable business and cultural relationship seem to be a positive indicator for the future.

Jiwon Lim is a Summer 2024 Young Professional at the East-West Center in Washington. She is a rising first year at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) pursuing a MA in International Relations with a functional focus in Security, Strategy, and Statecraft and a regional focus in Asia.