(Philadelphia, PA) Innovative product creation can add immediate value to a company, but adding value for customers requires a leadership perspective that keeps the pipeline of new ideas active for the long-term. For Japanese cuisine thought leader, Josh Onishi, CEO of Hana Group North America, developing a culture of innovation for his team has made his company’s supermarket-based sushi bars into destinations.
“Customers keep returning to our supermarket partners excited to see what new ideas we’re preparing in-store,” explains Onishi. “New flavors and sushi formats pique people’s curiosity, and earn them plenty of attention on social media too. They’re also eager to try the new dishes because they know they’re guaranteed to get something fresh, delicious and sustainable under one of our Hana brand labels.”
Through the years, Hana Group has introduced customers to sushi sandwiches, doughnuts and burritos, encouraging fans to look at Japanese-inspired cuisine in a new way. That’s why recent additions that push traditional flavor combinations have been so popular as well. The company’s continued exploration of sushi innovation has brought crunch rolls with Thai and Mediterranean flavor combinations as well as rice paper wraps that can add accent tastes like barbecue and mango.
Onishi values input from his team in transforming the classic, fresh ingredients sushi fans know so well into dishes that will surprise people. Rather than penalizing employees’ attempts to innovate, Onishi encourages them to think in terms of scalability and commercialization, as well as Hana Group’s brand promises – quality, freshness and sustainability – to determine whether suggestions are the next big trend or need more work.
Notes Onishi, “the challenge to stay ahead of trends pushes our team to have fun with food ideas within our professional parameters. I love hearing about concepts coming from their different inspirations and working through the implementation of a potential hit with our chefs, designers, accountants, etc. We know we’re meeting our mission when customers tell us they can’t get enough of a new favorite.”
About Josh Onishi & Hana Group North America
Hana Group North America is the largest sustainable sushi retailer on the continent, energizing the world through high quality, Asian cuisine sold under its Genji and Mai brands at hundreds of retail locations across North America. Products ranging from sushi to ramen are made fresh daily, often onsite, by highly trained master chefs, using 100% sustainable seafood. The company is led by President and CEO Josh Onishi, a respected thought leader who has been asked to speak at various conferences, including the Seafood Sustainability Summit. In 2018, the Business Intelligence Group honored Onishi with its highest honor, naming him a Sustainability Hero.