Last October, American food professionals visited fermented food producers to deepen their knowledge of Japanese fermentation culture during the “Hakko Tourism in Japan” tour campaign. As part of the tour, organizers held a tasting session where guests gave candid advice from the perspective of the American market to food product manufacturers looking to enter the United States market.
If you take a close look at the labels of soy sauce distributed in Japan, you will often see a large “JAS” logo in the middle of the package. JAS stands for Japan Agricultural Standard and its logo guarantees the quality of the product and the way it is made, and it can only be affixed to soy sauce that is made in JAS-certified factories* and that has satisfied JAS standards.*
Since it is up to the manufacturer to decide whether or not to affix the JAS logo, there are soy sauces made by certified factories which does not have the JAS logo affixed. It costs money to test soy sauce and to get JAS certified. Some factories say, “Even without testing, we are confident that our soy sauce meets JAS standards, and we have built up trust in our products with consumers and distributors. We would rather use the money for the test towards making soy sauce.” Because of this, it is not necessarily true that soy sauce without the JAS logo is not good enough.
With that said, JAS logo is still an important criterion that provides a peace of mind when selecting products, and it also improves manufacturers’ internal awareness as they continue to pass strict tests. The JAS logo is an important and indispensable logo for the soy sauce industry.
* JAS-certified factories and JAS standards are listed on a separate page.
Keiko Kuroshima, the world's first soy sauce sommelier and certified sensory inspector, hails from Japan's soy sauce production hub in Shodoshima. She co-authored a book on the island's breweries and is the only female among the three soy sauce sommeliers worldwide. Her expertise and passion elevate soy sauce appreciation globally.