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Fisheries Research Agency Develops Fishing Ground in South Indian Ocean

January 14, 2010

The Fisheries Research Agency has been conducting research to develop new fishing grounds for distressed far seas trawl fishing due to declines in fishing grounds. A research vessel docked back home in Sendai on Jan. 8 with a certain positive result.

Japanfs far seas trawlers, undergoing the diminishing fishing grounds, have been operating mainly out of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain in the high seas of the Northern Pacific in recent years. In response to the UN resolution to prevent adverse effects on the fragile ecosystem by trawl fisheries in the high seas, a partial reduction of total allowable efforts in the waters of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain is necessary.

The development of new fishing grounds entailed two conditions: new fishing grounds had to be available for the period of April to December, the main fishing season of the fishing ground of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain; and midwater trawl fishing was required to not bring about an undesirable effect on the seafloor ecosystem.

The agency carried out a study for four months from mid August to mid December last year by a midwater trawler, Dai-Gojuhachi Fuji-Maru (401t), targeting the high seas of the western part of the South Indian Ocean. As a result, the trawler was able to catch about 1,200 tons of schools of fish, i.e. alfonsino, floating up in the water. It was judged that commercial fishing during the last part of the projected fishing season from April through December would be possible.

The agency commented: gNext year, we will again conduct another study at the same sea area for the first part of the projected fishing season from April to December, aiming to establish an alternative fishing ground to the waters of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain.h

The original article was published on January@14, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Japan Fish Traders Association Holds New Yearfs Lecture

January 13, 2010

The Japan Fish Traders Association (Chairman Yuji Kobayashi, a director of Fisheries Business Department 1 of Nippon Suisan) held a New Yearfs lecture and party in Tokyo on Jan. 8. Asahi Shinbun (Newspaper) Ishimaki Branch Office Chief Toru Takanarita, who is also known as a commentator for TV Asahifs gNews Station,h gave a lecture gYou Can See the World Through Fish.h Roughly 140 industry related people attended.

Prior to the lecture, Chairman Kobayashi said, gIt is estimated that last yearfs seafood imports dropped 6-7 percent in quantity and 20 percent in money amount. Inventory reductions and restrained procurement are fostering a ground of a bad cycle. Innovative ideas that manage to encourage fish consumption are needed. From now on, on top of resources sustainability and environment preservation, attention to biodiversity becomes necessary in marine foods trading. Companies must resiliently respond to these changes.h

Mr. Takanarita: gStories of Fish Should Be Toldh

Mr. Takanarita, who worked as the Asahi Shinbun US chief correspondent and editorialist previously, talked about Japan-US relations and a relation between the rapidly growing Chinese economy and the fishing industry based on his experience from various point of view.

gJapan escaped the deflationary economy thanks to special procurements from the Korean War 60 years back. It is time to look at special procurements from the Asian market. The Chinese economy in particular is an engine of growth in the world and it is nonsense if you donft cash in on Chinese middle classf spending power,h he pointed out the fact that the Asian market would come indispensible for breaking out of the current recession.

Mr. Takanarita, who also carries episodes of various fish stories in a local newspaper, said, gI have written news articles about roughly 70 different fish species so far; it amazes me to know each fish species has its own unique stories. Telling stories of fish, which deeply originate from history and culture of every region of the country will help expand food culture and encourage fish consumption,h suggesting an idea for the future fishing industry development.

After the lecture, the Japan Fisheries Association chairman Toshiro Shirasu shared his speech and the Japan Frozen Foods Inspection Corporation Board Chairman Shigeharu Maeda gave a toast.

Picture 1: (left) Chairman Kobayashi and (right) Mr. Takanarita

The original article was published on January@13, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Dept Director of National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations
Publishes Paper, Presenting Issue with Margin

January 13, 2010

The JF National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations department director, Takanori Ichimura, wrote a short collaborative paper with Shimonoseki City University Professor Eiji Hamada, titled gWhy do fishermen take home only 24.7% of retail price? Further aggravated by decreasing fish prices at production sites, remaining high-fuel price, and deflation! Restructuring of organic division of labor by producers, distributors, and retailers!h (29 pages)

After shedding light on the reality that producersf income has diminished since 2000 and that retailerfs margin has continued growing, the paper pinpoints that gMass retailersf control of distributions progressed; consequently, a right of pricing function has been transferred to retailers. Moreover, all-year consumption, standardization, and identical pricing of goods have deprived marine products sold at stores of their attraction; and a system that includes producing sites, distributions, and store departments, is showing institutional fatigue. It is high time to restructure new seafood distribution business with organic division of labor relations by producers, distributors, and retailers.h

In commemoration of the federationfs 1,000th newsletter, the originally published paper in 1997 was on a research of a margin percentage of marine foods based on the price comparison between seafood producing sites and consuming areas as well as a survey on seafood price formation at a distribution level. The just released, updated paper further surveyed margin rates since the original research and highlighted the current issue with fish prices. As for margins of producers, distributors, and retailers, for instance, in 1984 mackerel producersf take-home income was 37.8 percent; distributors 33.7 percent; and retailers 26.9 percent. By 2002, this picture changed to fishermen 29.5 percent; distributors 24.4 percent; and retailers 45.15 percent. To sum up a margin percentage of overall marine products for 2008, fishermen took home 24.7 percent; distributors 36.8 percent; and retailers 38.5 percent.

Distributors are facing unavoidable cost increases due to charges made by retailers, such as storage fee and penalty for delayed arrival, and bearing miscellaneous expenses.

In addition to the decreasing margin percentage encountered by producers and distributors, the current trend of low price competitions is further creating an adverse effect on fish prices. With the added higher fuel costs, fisheries businesses have been pressured.

The paper also points out: gThough mass retailers say they render services to the public by offering low-priced commodities, this is just to switch the focus of argument. The issue lies in efallacy of composition.f Mass retailers as external diseconomies are asking fishermen to bear excess burden, so that they can survive harsh competitions. From this point on, it is essential to secure a persuasive retail margin in order to provide attractive marine foods.h

The original article was published on January@13, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

New Yearfs Greeting: Nippon Suisan President Naoya Kakizoe

January 6, 2010

Nippon Suisan titled our 2009 business plan as gBusiness for Changeh in order to get better performance out of the Global Links and Local Links which took us eight years to establish in our preparation for upheavals. The core point of the reform is placed on the complete removal of ginternal logic.h I wish to awaken DNA that intrepidly reforms itself, when Nissui encounters hindrances in history.

A traditional wall between marine and food business will be removed; and also areas of our business will be expanded from gfoodh to glife.h In terms of business organization, six new conferences as a federated function will be set up, aiming to get rid of the internal logic of each segment. Moreover, we also invited outside board members to join our quality assurance committee to have them observe our business operations with an outsidersf eyes.

In parallel to the core reform of Nissui itself, we have newly begun a business meeting of each individual company in order to further promote group reform, in addition to the quarterly group business meeting. We concluded that we would need to discuss subjects missing in the group business operations and generate larger results by sharing each companyfs immediate and medium- to long-term issues as the groupfs own. Through these shared issues, the reality that each company or the group was failing to make the most of management resources, resulting from a misplaced top priority on the internal logic, came to the surface.

However, at the same time, I feel that various changes are taking place here and there within the group. Right now, they may look vain like embers; but I am convinced that they will grow to be a revolutionary force spreading throughout the group. By eradicating the internal logic, we will make occurrences of the world and Nissuifs operations transparent for the inside and outside eyes. That is the beginning of the reform. Upon summarizing the business plan last year, I said to everyone that we would think about greformh for the first year and then actualize gevolutionh for the second year.

Making the changes already going on inside of us the actual results requires spirit and courage to think of and actualize the gevolution.h A great number of venues with the spirit and courage have been prepared.

I strongly seek in every each one in the group the gevolutionh which is needed to realize the manifestation of everyonefs mind, gthe most powerfulh or gthe overwhelmingly number oneh in the Nissuifs history on our own.

Picture 1: President Kakizoe

The original article was published on January@6, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Nippon Suisan Suggests Cost Reductions to Industry

December 22, 2009

Nippon Suisan is planning to strengthen the efforts of downsizing (DS) and downweighting of cold distributions of marine and frozen foods, which have been conducted mainly by the Department of Supply Chain Management. The company also will encourage other companies, attempting to expand the efforts gfrom activities of one company to collaborative efforts of the entire industry.h

Cost Reductions of \50 Million in Seafood Business, \100 Million in Frozen Foods

For instance, in the case of frozen shrimp, currently a gwater freezingh method, which is to solidify shrimp on a freezer tray by water and then freeze it, is used. In the current system, a 2kg product requires 1kg water (ice), accounting for 34 percent of all; a gsemi IQFh system, which uses glaze water for solidifying shrimp, requires only 100g water (ice) for 2kg shrimp, resulting in cost cutback of transportation and more efficient storage. CO2 emission created at the time of transportation will drop; furthermore, an amount that can be stored on each pallet will increase. There are various advantages in the new method.

The new method, however, reduces an expiration date from three years currently to one year and a half, making some users feel reluctant about it. Hisashi Sakai, Corporate Officer/Assistance General Manager of Business Promotion of Nissui, said as to a reason behind this decision: gIt is just like 1/3 of what you are transporting is ice. We should consider economic effectiveness and environment preservation more important than an expiration date.h

In amberjack farming business run by Kurose Suisan of Nissui Group in Miyazaki Prefecture, a 30 percent reduction of ice is made possible by chilling amberjack products first, and then freezing them using self-developed dehydrated sherbet ice (dehydration rate of 85 percent and -2.4 C).

For such frozen foods as croquette and broiled rice ball, cartons with unused room in the ceiling and on the sides were revised to an appropriate size. In addition, removing trays led to a further reduction in packaging material costs.

Nissui launched a DS project team in April 2006. The company is projecting the cost reduction effect of \50 million in marine foods and \100 million in frozen foods. The company expressed a proactive policy to encourage the industry to adopt this way by saying, gDepending on how we approach this project, there will be more room to carry out economic effectiveness. We want to contribute to the invigoration of the industry by offering our accumulated knowledge.h

Picture 1: shrimp in front is semi IQF frozen shrimp.

The original article was published on December 22, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Kyokuyo Leading Seafood Company Following Maruha Nichiro and Nissui,
Holds Presidentfs Year-End Press Conference

December 18, 2009

Kyokuyo President Kiyokazu Fukui said at the year-end press conference: gDue to the growing consumer tendency of money saving practices, we have begun to be trapped in this vicious circle.h He furthermore added: gIn the midst of the practice of passing to consumers the benefits of a strong yen and increasing pressure to reduce prices with private brand products, it becomes more difficult at the manufacturerfs level to secure profits. The key is to adopt a sense of speed to keep up with market trends.h His further comments are as follows:

[Progress Report on Midterm Business Plan] This fiscal term is the first year for our three-year midterm plan gKyokuyo Group Challenge 2012h; we already had to downgrade the sales of \160 billion to \150 billion, and the ordinary earnings of \3.3 billion to \3 billion. As a single entity, we are somehow managing to pull it off, however, big contributors, Kyokuyo Kaiun and Kyokuyo Suisan, now had to hit the brakes. We are not expecting things to get any better for the last half of the year. On the other hand, there has been some hopeful news, such as gHonmaguro no Kiwameh (Kyokuyo Marine Farmfs tuna aquaculture operation), the completion of the construction of a large far seas purse seiner (Kyokuyo Suisanfs Dainana Wakaba-Maru), and a reception of the Monde Selection Gold Medal by our smoked salmon.

[Year End Sales Glitz] Explosive enthusiasm cannot be anticipated; however, a recent consumer preference to eat in has helped increase orders of foodstuff for New Yearfs cuisine. Sales may end up being better than last year. There is a chance of king crab going out of stock. We will continue to stick to our policy of gpurchase the right amount at an appropriate timeh to eliminate unnecessary inventory.

[Marine Products Purchasing Business] We cannot avoid placing the top priority on marketing. Right now, our task is how we can procure reasonably priced fish and maintain stable supply. A processing strategy with consumers in mind, which included shrimp, crab, salmon, and frozen Northern/Southern fish, worked out well. As it is an unusual situation where a supply-demand balance does not function in conjunction with prices, we need to remain wired in and value our professional eye as well as homemakerfs point of view.

[Processed Food] In the segment of marine cold foods, our venture business company KUE in Thailand, which manufactures sushi toppings and frozen sushi, is going full swing. We are aiming to become the number one in the sushi-topping sector of the industry by 2011, and to this end we are considering further business investment. Prepared cold foods mainly for professional use are struggling right now because consumers prefer to dine in. Room temperature foods are continuing to increase both sales and profit. A consumer tendency to eat in and the flu have contributed to boosted sales of canned fish.

[Tuna Business] In addition to not having any tuna inventory we prepared due to its high price, our secure sales channel to mainly sushi boat restaurants is conducive to growing profit. We made a mistake and ended up paying an expensive lesson fee before by purchasing an entire cargo, however, finally we started to see the light.

Picture 1: President Fukui

The original article was published on December 18, 2009 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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