No trip to the footy or cricket would be complete without a hot Four’N Twenty meat pie. Arguably Australia’s most iconic snack, Four’N Twenty pies have kept Aussie sports fans well fed since 1947. And now it’s Japan’s turn.
Patties Foods, the maker of Four’N Twenty pies, is now selling its classic snack at sports stadiums across the country. This is in addition to over 300 retail stores, 200-plus convenience outlets, theme parks and ski resorts.
‘We were incredibly excited to launch in Japan in 2019,’ says Anand Surujpal, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Patties Foods. ‘We are so thrilled that people in Japan love our Four’N Twenty meat pies as much as Australians do.’
In a recent major win, Patties Foods is selling its Four’N Twenty pies at Koshien, the spiritual home of Japanese baseball and the literal home of the Hanshin Tigers, one of Japan’s leading baseball teams.
‘Baseball is Japan’s most popular sport to play and watch,’ says Surujpal. ‘It is a sport where people enjoy eating and drinking while watching the game, so it was a perfect fit for us.
‘We initially got the deal because Koshien’s food vendor knew our pies were big sellers at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He wanted to sell them at Koshien during an interleague tournament, and we’re sure glad he did.’
In Australia, Four’N Twenty is synonymous with sport. Surujpal says it made sense to continue this connection between Four’N Twenty and sport in other markets. In the US, another growing market for Patties Foods, Four’N Twenty pies are sold at major basketball venues. Australian basketball star Ben Simmons is also a brand ambassador.
‘We are selling our pies at 5 rugby stadiums and 3 soccer stadiums across Japan,’ says Surujpal. ‘We are also negotiating with 4 baseball stadiums for next season, which is very exciting.’
And, importantly, Patties Foods hasn’t forgotten its footy roots. It is sponsoring the current AFL Japan season and sponsored both Kansai Rugby in 2019 and the 2021 AFL Japan Grand Final.
Patties Foods’ export story kicked off in 2019 when it landed a deal to sell its Four’N Twenty Chunky Angus Beef pies at IKEA cafes across Japan, as part of a seasonal menu. This was the first time many Japanese consumers had eaten an Australian meat pie.
Surujpal says Japanese consumers are curious about food and willing to try new products.
‘When we launched in Japan, we spent time explaining to people how the meat pie is part of Australian culture,’ he says. ‘We also carried out tasting sessions with our party pies. The smaller size worked really well and allowed us to celebrate the traditional shape of an Aussie meat pie.’
Then came the big break.
Patties Foods had developed a close relationship with one of the catering organisers for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The organiser agreed to sell Four’N Twenty Chunky Angus Beef pies at 6 major stadiums across Japan.
‘We got our pies in the hands of thousands of visitors who came to Japan for the tournament,’ says Surujpal. ‘Japanese consumers also started buying pies and a beer to watch the games. It was a fantastic result for us.’
Patties Foods is now exporting Four’N Twenty’s 150g Chunky Angus, 120g Beef and 120g Beef & Cheese pies to Japan. The pies are available at over 300 retail stores and 200-plus Lawson’s convenience outlets. They are also sold at 6 Universal Studios theme parks, ski resorts and sports stadiums.
Patties Foods is planning to launch Four’N Twenty party pies, Leader Toppas bite-sized snacks and Nanna’s dessert pies in Japan in the near future.
Surujpal says Austrade has provided invaluable assistance to Patties Foods over the years, including introducing it to trade events such as the Fukuoka Christmas Market and Kobe Bread & Beverage Festival.
‘Austrade has always been very supportive and we keep in close contact with each other,’ says Surujpal. ‘Every time we launch a new product, we share the information with Austrade, who then shares it with their community through their social media channels. This is very helpful in increasing our brand’s profile with customers and consumers.’