Meet Shuto Oikawa. Fluent in three languages. Former college athlete. World traveler. Sustainable coffee bean supplier.

Shuto is currently the senior trader of the Coffee Department for Mitsui & Co., Ltd., one of the largest sogo-shosha – Japanese for general trading company – in Japan. Mitsui & Co. has operations that range from investments to trading of products like petroleum, metal resources and food products such as coffee or soy beans, to hospital management and infrastructure development. It supplies green coffee to a number of companies, including Coca-Cola Japan. As the leader in the canned coffee segment in Japan, Coca-Cola holds a very large piece in the third-largest importer of green coffee beans (note: or “fourth largest consuming country”).  Shuto and his team are responsible for procuring and efficiently delivering coffee beans as raw material for Coca-Cola Japan. 

Shuto’s story begins nearly 12,000 miles away from Mitsui & Co. headquarters in Tokyo to Long Island, NY. A Japanese native, eight-year-old Shuto and his family moved to the United States for his father’s job relocation. He attended public school in his hometown of Long Island where he mastered the English language. Naturally athletic, Shuto enjoyed a pick-up game of basketball, wrestling and eventually went on to captain the varsity football team. After graduating, Shuto was accepted to Colgate University with honors and walked on to the football team where he played throughout his college career. During his time at Colgate, the Raiders, as they are known, held the best four-year record in the history of the football program, including a D1AA Championship Game!

Shuto Oikawa

“One thing I learned, which will forever be a huge asset, is that no matter where I am, I can be confident that I will excel and will be accepted by the surrounding people and environment.,” said Shuto. “You don’t find many Asians playing in D1 football programs, but after working hard to put on the weight needed to play offensive line and gutting my way through four years, I am proud to have made many friends from all over and earned respect for my accomplishments.”

After 14 years of living in the U.S., Shuto returned to Japan to pursue a career with Mitsui & Co. Initially joining the Energy Business Unit, Shuto was responsible for overseeing the upstream petroleum and gas assets in Australia and New Zealand, as well as evaluating and securing new business opportunities for the company.

In May 2007, Shuto moved on to work with Mitsui & Co.’s energy business operations in North and South America. He became very drawn to Brazil just as the country was beginning to explore its “sub-salt” potential in super deep offshore oilfields. In 2008, he participated in an exchange program with a partner company in Brazil and in 2009, was accepted to a two-year program that afforded him the opportunity to study and gain work experience abroad – and for Shuto, the obvious choice was to stay in Brazil. After one year of studying in Salvador and another working in the Mitsui Sao Paulo office with food products, Shuto move back to Japan to lead the coffee procurement department – this time returning to his home country having picked up another language, Portuguese.

In 2013, Coca-Cola announced ambitious global environmental conservation and performance goals, including the commitment to sustainably source key agricultural ingredients. A healthy agricultural supply chain is essential to the well-being of the communities in which business operates, and is critical to the success of The Coca-Cola Company.

Through Coca-Cola’s Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles, suppliers like Mitsui & Co. partner to ensure that “more sustainable sourcing” occurs. This includes setting criteria for human and workplace rights, environmental stewardship and responsible farm management.

“We are living in a very dynamic world, no matter what type of product or commodity you are working with, be it oil or coffee beans, and every day is a new challenge and a learning experience,”  Shuto said. “Our companies are working together towards a very important and challenging goal in a way that others have not yet accomplished – which makes all the effort worth taking.”

To read more stories and learn about Coca-Cola’s sustainable agricultural efforts, please click here.