Brokerage of Quality Foods, Inc. was founded in 1986 by Katy Okuyama. BQF was the first natural and specialty food brokerage in Hawaii. Katy comes from three generations of entrepreneurs.
Katy’s grandfather, Tomohide Okuyama, purchased a small grocery store in Hilo, Hawaii in 1935 for $1,500. Tomohide passed on his passion and knowledge to Katy's father, Tom Okuyama. Katy, in turn, grew up in the family business: from the time she was old enough to be of help, she remembers helping at her father’s store's anniversary celebrations, passing out cake, ice cream and sodas to customers. From those early memories, her responsibilities grew, and eventually along the way Katy held jobs in every department of the store. Katy’s commitment and passion for the natural foods business, in particular, is also personal. In the early 1970s her father underwent open-heart surgery and from then on Katy has been committed to natural foods and an active lifestyle.
In the late 1970’s Katy convinced her family to squeeze a small bulk foods section into their Kealakekua Kona store, repacking bulk grains, nuts, dried fruit and flours. It was a success! Katy continued to press her family, and eventually that small bulk foods section became entire natural foods sections, including grocery, chill, and frozen, in each of her family's stores. At that time natural food manufacturer promotions were a rare offering, so Katy would contact the manufacturers directly to negotiate buys and promotions. There was the need for a broker representative for natural food companies selling to Hawaii, so in 1986 Katy followed in the footsteps of her entrepreneurial family and founded BQF. Several of Katy’s clients in those early years of BQF’s history are still with BQF today.
The lessons and values Katy learned from her family, combined with her own beliefs in natural and organic foods, perseverance, focus and execution have allowed Katy and her team at BQF to build brand dominance in the marketplace. As a third-generation grocer, Katy has formed many valuable long-time broker, principal, distributor and retailer relationships in the Hawaii marketplace. The BQF team has a wealth of knowledge both in the marketplace and behind the scenes that gives BQF a unique understanding of the needs and solutions for both principals and retailers alike.