HELENA, Mont. – Seven Montana producers of spirits and beer are seeking to expand their distribution through a trip to Japan with the Montana Department of Commerce.
The producers will be part of a Montana-branded pavilion at Wine and Gourmet Japan, a tradeshow in Tokyo, from April 12–14. They will be meeting with distributors and trade representatives to get their products in Japanese restaurants and on store shelves.
“We have received inquiries from several countries looking to import unique craft beers, and we feel our award-winning beers using Montana-grown and -malted barley are a great fit for this increasing demand,” said Max Pigman, owner and president of Lewis and Clark Brewing Company.
The Office of Trade and International Relations at the Montana Department of Commerce is organizing the trip. Through the U.S. Small Business Administration's State Trade Expansion Program (STEP), Commerce is covering tradeshow booth expenses and providing a travel stipend to participants.
“Montana’s distilling industry has successfully self-organized and advanced to where it is ready to expand distribution outside of Montana and even the United States,” International Marketing Officer Aaron Pratt said.
Pratt says Japan is the perfect market for Montana producers to expand their distribution because of the country’s existing relationships with Montana, a growing demand for spirits, and an affinity for the American West. Montana and Kumamoto, Japan have a sister-state relationship which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary.
Participating at the tradeshow will be: Lewis and Clark Brewing Company and Gulch Distillers in Helena; Headframe Spirits in Butte; Bozeman Spirits, Montana Malting and Wildrye Distilling in Bozeman; and Whistling Andy Distilling in Bigfork.