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Japan Supermarkets Association: September Sales Go Negative, Seafood Suffers As Well

October 30, 2008

The September Comparative-Store Sales results for 4,005 stores of 60 member companies from the Japan Supermarkets Association indicate that September sales declined 0.3 percent, marking a negative score for the first time in four months. Food safety and assurance problems, originating from tainted rice and Chinese powdered milk incidents had a negative effect on consumers’ purchases.

Seafood sales on a like-for-like basis dropped 2.6 percent. The high-priced tuna, fish roe, and unagi struggled, because of affordability issues. The drastically decreased production of domestic unagi significantly affected sales growth. Saury moved favorably, however both its market price and unit price tumbled. A bountiful catch of chum salmon resulted in steady availability.

The category of food products registered a 0.8 percent increase, experiencing a positive growth for 14 months in a row since last August. Agricultural products remained on a plateau with a 0.2 percent decline. The first half of the month witnessed favorable sales of salad-related products, and colder temperatures in the rest of the month engendered satisfactory sales in root vegetables.

There was a 5.2 percent growth in livestock products sales. All in all, the products in this category fared nicely; pork, poultry, and ground meat with broader versatilities, in particular was favored by consumers.

Prepared foods recorded a 0.3 percent rise. Seasonal merchandises as fried oyster and saury displayed strong performances; conversely, sales in sushi-related products, such as saury sushi, went dull.

Daily groceries dropped 0.1 percent. Japanese daily products* moved smoothly, however Western daily products** stagnated. Sales in cold foods also went weak. Processed foods achieved a 1.6 percent increase. With a continuous price-rising trend ending in a higher per-piece price, this category reached a previous year’s result.

NOTE from a translator:
*Japanese daily products mean fermented soybeans (natto), tofu, fish paste products, etc.
**Western daily products mean dairy products, bread, etc.

The original article was published on October 30, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

The 15th Northwestern Pacific Whaling Research By-Products Indicate Average 6% Rise

October 29, 2008

The Institute of Cetacean Research will sell 1884.4 tons of by-products resulting from the 15th Northwestern Pacific whaling research both non-profitly and commercially.

Based on prices determined by the 21st Antarctic Ocean Research, the Institute elected to raise prices by an average of 6 percent. It expects sales proceeds of approx. \3 billion, about the same as last year.

The by-products acquired by the research are whale meat, consisting of 59 Minke whales, 50 Bryde’s whales, 100 Sei whales, and 2 spermaceti whales. A total of 312.2 tons with 29.6 tons of Minke, 67.5 tons of Bryde’s, and 215.1 tons of Sei whales will be sold non-profitly, while a total of 1576.2 tons, containing 143.5 tons of Minke, 344 tons of Bryde’s, 1079.6 tons of Sei, and 9.1 tons of spermaceti whales will be commercially put into the market.

Commercially distributed whale meat will be sold through the central wholesale markets in the nation from the period of November 1 thru January 31, 2009. The prices of tail meat, dappled meat, and red meat will be marked up, whereas the prices of chopped pieces and breast meat will be reduced.

Proceeds from the sales will be allocated to future research expenses. Additionally, frozen by-products obtained through the whaling research at the Kushiro offing, weighting 20 tons, will be also commercially sold.

The original article was published on October 29, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Nichirei’s Midterm Results Show Drastic Improvement of Seafood Business

October 29, 2008

Nichirei announced increases in sales and profits in the second quarter (interim results) across the board; total sales increased 5.1 percent to \242.8 billion; operating earnings rose 13.7 percent, totaling \9.067 billion; and ordinary proceeds amounted to \8.672 billion, up 12.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago.

Livestock business, mainly poultry, enjoyed significant increases in profit. Improved earnings in seafood business and low-temperature distribution operations, especially in Europe, performed satisfactorily, contributing to the overall higher results. Net profit gain of the second quarter (interim net profit) suffered a loss of \786 million (16.5%), ending in \3.968 billion, as a result of an extraordinary loss of \1.7 billion due to the application of the lease accounting standard.

Seafood business recorded a 3.2 percent growth, finishing in \39.4 billion. It made a remarkable comeback from a last year’s operating loss of \342 million to operating proceeds of \772 million, indicating a recovery of \1.1 billion. Focusing on the key products and the rebounding domestic market favorably worked for the business.

In terms of “shrimp”, despite a decrease in shrimp from Latin America, the business’ directing its focus to shrimp from South East Asia, the main supplier, and sales of processed food, helped secure the sales. Profitable sales of processed food played a big part.

As for the “seafood products”, the business lessened purchasing of high-priced octopus, whereas more salmon, trout, and frozen fish were procured. Even with sales of fish roe going flat, satisfactory distribution of the product to processors turned the table for the business. Processed food business registered a 1.8 percent increase in sales, securing \90 billon, however its operating earnings plummeted 32.5 percent to \1.007 billion.

The negative impact of the Chinese frozen potsticker scandal on the overall market affected prepared frozen food for home use, however such products as “crispy spring roll” fared well. By keeping sales loss minimal and limiting ad spending, this category managed to improve its profit compared to a profit loss in the previous quarter.

Professional-grade prepared frozen food indicated an increase of 8 percent, while the renewal campaign of acerola, celebrating its 20th anniversary, backfired and terminated in a remarkable 21.6 percent dive, leaving a task down the road.

Overseas Business Significantly Contributes to Low-Temperature Distribution Business

Livestock business registered remarkable gains: sales proceeds of \47 billion (16.6%) and operating earnings of \668 million (132%). The category of low-temperature distribution business recorded sales of \72.2 billion, up 5 percent, whereas operating profit amounted to \4.381 billion with an increase of 1.1 percent, remaining almost unchanged from the last year.

Overseas business’ operating profit increase of 42.8 percent contributed to the business overall, in spite of the unfavorable impact of the high fuel costs on the distribution network.

President Toshiaki Murai stated: “the results of seafood business is beyond its real strength; the third quarter will be the crucial moment. Poultry, beef, and pork in livestock business all wonderfully performed across the board. We are considering the better course of action, as far as acelora goes.”

He also revealed the Nichirei Foods’ plan to establish a subsidiary for poultry business in Thailand.

The original article was published on October 29, 2008 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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