Most of the shops here are modest, wood-framed structures similar to the roadside stalls found in Japan. Their shelves are packed tight with every manner of daily necessity, from food to laundry detergent, and sure enough, a good supply of "PREMIER" brand instant coffee. Popular with citizens across Myanmar, PREMIER can be found virtually anywhere, whether in a traditional little store in the middle of the countryside, or a large supermarket in the heart of Yangon.
The coffee packets include fine-ground coffee mixed with creamer and sugar. Simply open the seal, empty the packet into a mug, add hot water and enjoy. According to Taichi Tanikawa of MC's Living Essential Consumer Products Division, the coffee is "twice as sweet as the coffee milk sold in Japan." Its convenience and great flavor have made it a favorite of many Burmese.
Through a joint venture with Capital Diamond Star Group (CDSG), one of Myanmar's largest and fastest growing companies, MC established the food manufacturing and distribution company Lluvia Limited in 2015. Its main businesses include production and sales of PREMIER coffee and flour milling, an industry in which it is currently Myanmar's leading company.
Most of Myanmar's processed foods are imported, as the country still lacks the technical expertise to produce them at home. However, Myanmar's growing economy is rapidly diversifying its palate, and the demand for processed and other foods is on the rise. There remains considerable room for growth in the country's food and beverage industry.
Crackers, biscuits, and other snacks go well with a nice cup of coffee, and while many are available in Myanmar, they are pricey imports and hard to find outside the big cities. Driven by its goal of providing reasonably priced snacks to citizens across Myanmar, Lluvia recently launched its own, domestic confectionary making operations.
Furthermore, although CDSG has traditionally sold fertilizer to Myanmar's farmers, it now plans to broaden its services to help stabilize incomes and quality of life in the country's agricultural sector. New initiatives will include support to procure farming equipment and operating funds to boost the sector's development. If these businesses come to fruition, they will not only result in more growth for Lluvia, but also help to raise the standard of living for Burmese citizens.
"I'm hoping that we can tap into this country's hidden potential, and play even a small role in brigthtening its future," says Tanikawa.
Lluvia means "rain" in Spanish, and with rain comes the blessing of new and vibrant life. MC's joint venture appears to be having that very effect in Myanmar.
This article appeared in Asahi Shimbun's "GLOBE" feature of January 8, 2017.