North American Food Distributing Co., Inc. was founded by the Inaba Brothers: Richard, Edward, and Flu Hitoshi. The three brothers started their wholesale distributing company of Japanese foods after World War II in 1945 in Denver, Colorado near Amache Camp where they were interned.
The Inaba family business actually began in the early 1900’s in the Sacramento Delta region with father Hikotaro, a Japanese immigrant farmer. With the help of his wife and children, he started a small grocery store, H.Inaba and Son, in Walnut Grove, CA and began delivering supplies such as rice, soy sauce and family produced tofu to nearby farms.
With the outbreak of World War II, the family had to leave the businesses and were interned in Amache Relocation Center in Colorado. During the war, the brothers Richard and Edward formed a partnership and opened a small market in Granada selling mainly domestically produced soy sauce, miso or soybean paste, pickled plums, pickled scallions, and U.S. grown rice. Later brother Flu joined the partnership and they opened another store in Denver.
Later in 1945 they returned home to California to continue the grocery businesses in Walnut Grove and in Fresno which were shut down during the war. In 1947 the brothers also opened an office for wholesale distribution in a small house on 6th Street in Sacramento. Because of the anti-Japanese sentiment at the time, they decided to name the company North American Food Distributing Company instead of using their Japanese family name. Soon thereafter, North American Food relocated to 4th and R Streets where the brothers started importing, in addition to food items, Japanese handicrafts and gift items. This Japanese gift import business became North American Trading Company. Both businesses operated at this location from 1956 to 1988.
In 1970 with the popularity of Japanese restaurants, the Inaba brothers created a Japanese restaurant supply company in the Bay Area known as N.A. Sales Company.
In May of 1988, the Inaba brothers of North American Food and North American Trading held an open house in celebration of their new 70,000 square feet facility in West Sacramento, which is their present location. North American Food continues to be a leading importer and wholesale distributor of Asian food products to businesses and restaurants with affiliated companies located in Tokyo, Japan; Los Angeles, California; Secaucus, New Jersey, and Honolulu, Hawaii.