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About ITO EN

Corporate History

ITO EN as a Pioneer in Green Tea Drinks

1960s 1970s 1980s
1990s 2000s 2010s

1960s

1966 The Frontier Tea Corporation, ITO EN's predecessor, established in Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
1968 First sales branch, the Kanagawa branch (now the Yokohama Midori Branch), opened in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
 
1969 Company name changed to ITO EN, LTD.
 

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1970s

1971 Headquarters relocated to Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.
 
1972 Introduction of high-speed automatic wrapping equipment developed by Industrial Gesellschaft of Switzerland.
Development of vacuum pack technology to preserve the freshness of green tea leaves.
1974 Shizuoka Sagara Plant constructed in Sagara Town (now Makinohara City), Haibara, Shizuoka Prefecture, and production systems consolidated there.
1977 First directly managed speciality store of the Chajuttoku chain opened in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.
1979 Signed a contract with the China National Native Produce and Animal By-Products Import and Export Corporation, a Chinese company,
to become the first company to import oolong tea into Japan.
Oolong tea sales also commenced.
 

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1980s

1981 Developed and commenced sales of canned oolong tea. Full-scale entry into beverage market followed.
Established OKINAWA ITO EN, Ltd.Commenced sales of black tea directly imported from Sri Lanka.
1982 Developed new green tea cultivation technology based on organic fertilizer.

Became first company to display "best by" dates on packaged tea.
 
1985 Became first company to successfully develop canned green tea.

First Ito-En Ladies Golf Tournament is held.
1986

Canned green tea product is awarded as the "Outstanding Product of the Year" by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

Featuring cutting-edge technology, ITO EN's Central Research Institute is established in Sagara Town (now Makinohara City), Shizuoka Prefecture.

 
1987 Established ITO EN (USA) INC. in Hawaii, to play a key role in overseas expansion.
 
1988 Received an award from the China Tea Import and Export Corporation for increasing the market for oolong tea in Japan.
 
1989 Name of canned green tea drink changed to Oi Ocha.

First ITO EN Oi Ocha New Haiku Contest held.

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1990s

1990 Sales surpass ¥50 billion.
 
1992 Initial public offering.

Headquarters relocated to Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.

Launched Jujitsu Yasai (vegetables galore).

1993 Completion of coffee roasting and processing plant at the Shizuoka Sagara Plant.
 
1994 Awarded the "Director General's Prize" from the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency for the successful development of canned green tea.

Issued convertible bonds worth 100 million Swiss francs.

Established ITO EN AUSTRALIA PTY. LIMITED in Australia.

Joint venture established with Ningbo Shunyi Tea Products Co., Ltd. in China.
1995 Sales surpass ¥100 billion.

Awarded the top prize of the second "Radio Tanpa Over-the-Counter Stock Blue Chip Awards."
1996 Established a green tea packing plant in Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture.Opened the first Natural Station store in Shinjuku, offering freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juice and freshly brewed coffee.

Received patent for technology used in the production of PET bottle green tea,known as the "Natural Clear" production method.

Stock listed on the Second Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Awarded the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Prize for developing the green tea beverage market.
1997 Cooperated in clinical tests carried out by the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, having been granted permission by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
 
1998 Stock advanced to the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
 
1999 Awarded the "Superior Financial Disclosure Company" by the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
 

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2000s

2000 Sold products in heatable PET bottles, an industry first.

Shizuoka Sagara Plant and Central Research Institute earn ISO 14001 certification.
2001 Sales surpass ¥200 billion.

Began tea cultivation in Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture.

Established ITO EN (North America) INC.

New research building completed in Sagara Town (now Makinohara City), Shizuoka Prefecture.
2002 ITO EN (North America) INC. opened tea store ITO EN New York and restaurant KAI, marking full-scale entry into the U.S. market.(2010 closed)

Concluded sales contract for Evian mineral water with Calpis, Co. Ltd.

Published Environmental Report 2002, a compilation of ITO EN's environmental conservation measures.

Production headquarters received ISO 9001 certification.
2003 Oi Ocha becomes the best-selling green tea drink brand.
 
2004

Launched Oi Ocha Koi Aji (strong flavor) and Ichinichibun no Yasai
(A Day's Worth of Vegetables).

ITO EN AUSTRALIA PTY. LIMITED (Victoria, Australia) builds and begins operating a tea leaf processing plant.

Mail order sales begin.


Double award from the Tokyo Stock Exchange: ninth Superior Financial Disclosure Award and second Increase in Individual Shareholders Award.


2005 Sales of Oi Ocha post 10% growth or higher for the 10th consecutive year; cumulative sales since launch surpass 8.0 billion units.

Launch of handled plastic PET bottle.

Received the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award (Eco Services Section) for its recycling system for used tea leaves.

2006 Launched "W Coffee" line of canned coffee beverages.

Began tea cultivation in Oita Prefecture.

ITO EN head office building achieves zero emissions.

East Hiroshima Branch Office first sales location to achieve ISO 14001 certification.

ITO EN's "Used Tea Leaf Recycling System" receives WASTEC Grand Prize 2006 from the Environment Minister's Awards.

ITO EN receives the 2006 Environment Minister's Award for Global Warming Prevention Measures (Technology Development and Product Division).

The Company strengthened its U.S. business by acquiring shares in Mason Distributors, Inc., a Florida-based supplier of nutritional supplements.

Seeking to expand its coffee business, ITO EN made FoodX Globe Co., Ltd., which operates the Tully's Coffee chain, into a consolidated subsidiary.

2007 Consolidated sales surpass ¥300 billion.

Launch of Tully's Coffee Barista's Special.

Head office divisions receive ISO 14001 certification.

Class 1 Preferred Stock listed on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

2008 Agreement sighed with Group DANONE (France) giving ITO EN exclusive marketing rights in Japan for Evian natural mineral water.

Tully's Coffee Japan Co., Ltd. established through merger of FoodX Globe Co., Ltd. and Tully's Coffee Japan.

ITO EN and ITOCHU Corporation establish joint venture, ITO EN ITOCHU Mineral Waters Co.
2009 Oi Ocha celebrated its 20th birthday.

All departments across the Company, including sales offices, received ISO 14001 certification.

Launched black tea line, TEAS' TEA NEW YORK.

Launched bottle-shaped canned coffee under the Tully's Coffee brand.

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2010s

2010 Established GREEN VALUE CO., LTD. to handle maintenance and procurement of automated vending machines.

Used Tea Leaves Recycling System received the jury's special award ― Green Purchasing Award 2010.
 
2011 Created Chichiyasu Company to further expand its dairy business.

Launched Futatsu no Hataraki Catechin Green Tea (food for specified health uses).

Launched Asa no Yoo, a yogurt drink developed jointly with Chichiyasu Company.

Used Tea Leaves Recycling System received the Minister of the Environment Prize at the 20th Grand Prize for the Global Environment Award.

Oi Ocha Green Tea receives 2011 Good Design–Long Life Design Award.

2012 Established ITO EN Asia Pacific Holdings Pte. Ltd. in Singapore to development business in Southeast Asia and other neighboring countries.

Launched carbonated drink Stylee Sparkling (food for specified health uses).

Established ITO EN Beverage (Shanghai), Ltd. in China.
2013 Launched Healthy Rooibos Tea.
2015 ITO EN (North America) INC. obtains 100% of the shares of Distant Lands Trading Company, Inc., which is involved in the cultivation and sale of coff ee beans mainly in the United States.

Launched global brand products, MATCHA GREEN TEA collection.

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