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Maruha Nichiro Launches New Company in Northern Japan Next April

September 30, 2009

Maruha Nichiro Holdings are slated to consolidate and reorganize manufacturing bases in the regions of Hokkaido and Aomori and to launch a new company "Maruha Nichiro Kita-Nihon" on April 1, 2010. This is a part of the Holding's mid-term management plan "Double Wave 21" (from 2008 to 2010). The new company will be a 100 percent subsidiary of the Maruha Nichiro Holdings, just like Maruha Nichiro Foods.

Production sites, targets of the consolidation, will be Maruha Nichiro Foods' Kushiro Plant and Mori Plant, Daisy Food, Okhotsk Nichiro, Aomori Canning Co., and Nichiro Tokachi Shokuhin. The current operations of seven sites by five companies will be restructured to six sites under one company. Daisy Food's Abuta Plant will be closed; however its canning operation will continue at Furano Plant.

The new company will focus its business operations on "manufacturing, processing, and marketing canned, retort, and frozen foods"; and it will be headquartered at a current operation site of Nichiro Tokachi Shokuhin (Sarabetsu Village, Hokkaido). The company will be represented by Ikuo Nakauchi, Executive Director of Maruha Nichiro Foods.

The reason for this move is to increase the efficiency, effective procurement and optimal utilization of marine and agricultural materials produced in Hokkaido and Aomori through manufacturing bases at material producing sites. "Integrating the functions of development and quality assurance strengthens cost-competitiveness, leading to the enhancement of the group's total power," the Holdings commented.

The original article was published on September 30, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

August Seafood Imports Indicate Increase in Tunas, Decrease in Sardine

September 30, 2009

Trade statistics released by the Ministry of Finance indicated that a total seafood import quantity for August amounted to 201,757 tons, or a seven percent decline from the same period of last year. An aggregate value came to \103.2 billion, down 18 percent. Tuna varieties, Matsubara stingfish, crab, octopus, and cooked eel exhibited increases in quantity; there were noticeable declines in sardine, flounder varieties, Japanese horse mackerel, and pollack surimi. An average import unit price was \512 per kg, or a 12 percent contraction. Value decreases in bonito, tuna varieties, octopus, crab, and pollack surimi turned out to be drastic.

An import quantity of tuna varieties displayed rises all across the board; however, unit prices indicated significant drops: a 43 percent increase of bluefin tuna (unit price down 44 percent); an 81 percent rise of bigeyed (unit price down 20 percent); a 26 percent hike of yellowfin (unit price down 24 percent); and a 121 percent jump of Southern bluefin (unit price down 41 percent).

Main ItemQuantity (t)Year-over-
Live Eel76857.7%1,06947.2%
Fresh/Chilled/ Frozen
Bluefin Tuna1,420143.4%2,48280.2%
Bigeye Tuna7,791181.2%5,566143.7%
Yellowfin Tuna4,374125.5%1,89595.8%
Southern Bluefin2,473220.6%2,871129.5%
Other Tuna Varieties1,44584.1%1,41170.7%
Cod Roe821166.2%48081.2%
Matsubara Stingfish5,413128.1%1,628121.3%
Fish Meat11,29082.8%3,27753.1%
Horse Mackerel1,57570.1%25047.9%
Pollack Surimi5,59867.9%1,43637.2%
Herring Roe643151.3%1,105130.5%
Cod Roe8848.9%12641.9%
Salmon Roe854121.7%1,13189.5%

The original article was published on September 30, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

'Considering Fisheries Group' Holds Meeting
"Fishing Industry Perceived by Media"

September 29, 2009

The September conference of the 'Considering Fisheries' group was held in Tokyo; its theme was "The Future of the Fishing Industry Perceived by Media." Masashi Tsuji from the Suisan Times touched on "The Progress and Issues of IT at Fish Wholesale Market," and Hiroshi Kashiwara from the Nihon Keizai Shinbun (Nikkei) talked about "Can Fishermen be Fostered?" Mr. Kashiwara said, "If things continuously stand in the same manner, a generational change will not take place, leading to the constant weakening of the industry. It becomes essential to proceed with deregulation and add more fishermen to the picture."

Acceleration of Introduction of IT to Distribution and Infrastructure Improvement

Mr. Tsuji from the Suisan Times pointed out: "It is amazing to see how the cold refrigeration and cold distribution sectors have aggressively advanced their apparatus, IT, and distribution. On the other hand, fresh seafood wholesalers haven't progressed much. When we think what is deterring the advancement, we can come up with some factors: 1) long work hours leave little room and time for OJT (On the Job Training); also, companies aren't motivated to improve business. Nobody questions the long work hours that go on and on endlessly; 2) the EDI, an industry common language, remains incomplete, only used between producer markets and wholesalers; and 3) there are bureaucratic turf battles between the General Food Policy Bureau managing wholesalers' markets, and the Fisheries Agency running producers' markets, hindering the further progress of IT. Compared with other industries, this industry is way behind the times. In order to break this cycle, a budget for wholesalers' facility improvements should be also used for the advancement of IT infrastructure for producers markets."

Loosening Regulations for Foreigner's Acquirement of Seaman License

Mr. Kashiwara from the Nikkei said, "In the agricultural industry, younger generations of key business owners are born one after another, adding liveliness to the industry. We see this particular industry is about to enter a new era of increasing unique business models. In contrast, the fisheries industry is facing a quite sever issue of securing successors, compared to the agricultural industry. In the midst of the weakening fisheries coops, it becomes crucial for them to make further efforts to enhance sale force by incorporating. If things continuously stand in the same manner, a generational change will not take place, leading to the constant weakening of the industry. If they are not capable of coping with this trying time on their own, they may end up hoping for foreign capital or non-fisheries industries' entry. There is also a delayed response to the internationalization, such as hiring non-Japanese citizens and overseas localization."

He further suggested the following as possible future solutions: "Fisheries cooperative associations in debts won't be able to invest in young hopefuls. Poorly performing fisheries coops should be dissolved and new ones need to be formed. Taijicho Fisheries Cooperative Association is a suitable example."

"Through fisheries corporations, making the best use of fishing grounds and letting outsiders brake into the industry to increase energetic business entities should be done. Mr. Izumizawa of Ajiro Gyogyo is such a good example," he continued.

In closing, Mr. Kashiwara suggested, "In order for a foreigner to be able to obtain a seaman's license, it is necessary to loosen regulations by separating commercial ships from fishing boats and/or providing tests in English."

The original article was published on September 29, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Cumulative Onshore Surimi Production Until August Declines 38%

September 29, 2009

The National Surimi Manufacturers Association summarized surimi production for seven companies in Hokkaido during the month of August. An aggregate of the surimi production for August came to 720 tons; a cumulative production quantity from January through August totaled 16,132 tons, as opposed to 22,570 tons the previous year, a drastic decline of 62 percent. The decline can be ascribed to the fact that atka mackerel catch from the period of January to July registered 46,088 tons, or 71 percent of the previous year's result.

Results for January through August by area are as follows: Wakkanai 256 tons (410 tons last year); Monbetsu 4,330 tons (6,682 tons); Abashiri 449 tons (1,482 tons); and Kushiro 11,097 tons (17,776 tons).

In contrast, a trend of imported surimi from January to July indicated 25,422 tons of pollack surimi (36,964 tons last year); 24,153 tons of golden threadfin bream surimi (37,503 tons); 143 tons of IQ fish meat/horse mackerel (47 tons); 595 tons of barracuda and sea bream (3,136 tons); and 49,910 tons of other fish meat (85,339 tons).

The original article was published on September 29, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Saury Harvest Amount Rises 4% in Mid Sep.

September 25, 2009

According to statistics released by the National Saury Fisheries Association, a cumulative catch amount of saury until September 20 added up to 85,100 tons, or a four percent increase. Its unit price, on the other hand, turned out to be \1,209 per 10kg, down seven percentage points.

Out of the accumulative total up until September 20, the Hokkaido district occupied 80 percent and marked an 18 percent jump to 66,800 tons, compared with the same period last year. The unit price shot down by 14 percent.

The Iwate region recorded a total of 8,000 tons, down 23 percentage points; its unit price, however, increased 28 percent to \1,309 per 10kg. Other major ports of landing in the region displayed the following results: Miyako 3,200 tons (down 11 percent year over year) and Ofunato 3,200 tons (down 38 percent).

The Miyagi district showed an aggregate amount of 9,600 tons, or a 14 percent decline. The unit price registered an 11 percent hike. Kesennuma reported a 30 percent contraction to 4,100 tons; Onagawa was 5,600 tons with a three percent increase.

The harvest quantities of Miyagi and Chiba were low; a total catch amount of the mainland Japan (Honshu), mainly the Iwate and Miyagi regions, exhibited a 27 percent fall to 18,400 tons; the unit price rose 16 percentage points to \1,241.

Report of Saury Harvest Amounts Until September 20

 Major PortsCatch AmountYear-Over-
Unit Price (¥)Year-Over-
 Total (Mainland)18,38573%1,241116%
Grand Total85,147104%1,20993%

The original article was published on September 25, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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