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Aeon Markets MSC Certified Bonito in High Gear

February 17, 2010

Aeon will begin marketing bonito of "Tosakatsuo Suisan Group," certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as the world's first pole and line skipjack tuna fishery, throughout its 487 group stores on Feb 19. Aeon will be the first business to market MSC certified bonito in high gear nationwide.

From the point of view of sustainability, the Aeon Group has focused on marketing MSC certified marine products. This time, the company will sell the MSC certified bonito at its group stores, Jusco and MaxValu.

At Jusco-Shinagawa Seaside store a tasting event of authentic Kochi's seared bonito is scheduled for 1pm on Feb 19.

The original article was published on February 17, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Great Turnout of Supermarket Trade Show: 25,000 Visit on First Day

February 10, 2010

25,000 Visitors Pack the Show: Exhibition Lasts Until Feb 10

The 44th 2010 Supermarket Trade Show kicked off at the Tokyo Big Site in Tokyo on Feb. 8, hosted by the Japan Self-Service Association (Chairman Kiyoshi Yokoyama). This is a leading professional trade show to share the cutting edge information with the retail industry, mainly for supermarkets. Simultaneously, the 3rd Chiiki Shigen Selection (Local Resources Show), the 8th Tenpo Kaihatsu Show (Retail Space Development Show), and the 5th Kodawari Shokuhin Show (Conscious Foods Show) are taking place. 24,528 visitors came to the show on the first day; the halls were full of ebullience with a large number of buyers.

Sites occupying all six halls were filled with showcases of marine foods, pastries, deli, snacks, livestock products, processed foods, coffee, alcohol beverages, and showcase manufacturers; the number of participants was the largest ever with 1,135 companies and groups (1,252 in small booth).

Booths sponsored by the prefectural government were Hokkaido, Shizuoka, Wakayama, Shimane, Yamaguchi, Kumamoto, Kochi, and Okinawa, which accommodated local small and medium-sized enterprises, showcasing their own products in an attempt to attract supermarket purchasers' attention.

Shimane Prefecture Promotes Kneaded Local Fish Products

The Shimane Prefecture Corner, the second largest space next to Hokkaido, was filled with 45 makers from the prefecture. Many manufactures of kneaded fish products, which are mostly consumed within the prefecture, were also part of the exhibits there.

10 to 13 kneaded fish products makers come together and make raw surimi from fresh local fish caught around Wae and landed at the Port of Taisha, utilizing a processing plant at Taisha, Izumo City in Shimane. "Nama-gyoten" made from the surimi was displayed by Izumokuni-Otaisha Shokuhin. Hideki Yamazaki of the company commented on "Nama-gyoten": "This week, we used synodontidae (eso) and yellowbanded red weever (torahaze) as raw materials. Catch changes every time. When products are made from raw surimi, it tastes different: it's more flavorful. I want them to be tasted by as many people as possible." Differentiated products that use well-selected materials are showcased at the show every year, so that out of prefecture buyers learn more about them. These surimi products are currently sold at high-end supermarkets in the Tokyo area.

MSC Products Showcased at Organizers' Corner

At the organizers' corner, in addition to locally brewed beer and buyers' selection products, the Marine Stewardship Council's certification program was detailed. With the introduction to the certification system, MSC certified products, cod roe, salmon roe, and salmon, which are sold at Co-op stores and Aeon, were laid out. MSC certified snow crab, flounder, and skipjack bonito from Japan were also introduced. Chikako Shibata, MSC Senior PR Manager said, "Compared to Europe and the US, Japanese people's awareness of environment may be still low; however, there are 180 MSC certified merchandizes, combined with foreign made salmon and salmon roe, can be found on store shelves in Japan. We wish that more people will learn about the MSC eco-label."

The show will run until the 10th.

The original article was published on February 10, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

New Maruha Nichiro President Kushiro Says, "Putting All Effort Into Stable Management"

February 9, 2010

Maruha Nichiro Holdings President Yuji Igarashi and Toshio Kushiro next President-to-be as of April 1, who is currently Representative Director/Vice President, held a press conference at the company on February 8. Both shared their comments and outlooks relating to the presidential change. Mr. Igarashi will become a chairperson without a representation right.

Referring to the presidential transition that is taking place when the midterm management plan "Double Wave 21" is facing the final year, President Igarashi said, "It's been two and a half years since the merger of Maruha Nichiro and two years since the start of the company; now, we have reached a certain point of the merger, almost achieving desired goals. Thinking about formulating the next midterm management plan that will begin next year, we decided that the shift couldn't happen any better than now." Of Vice President Kushiro, he spoke "With his focus on the human resources field and personal magnetism, I can leave this position to him without any worries."

On the other hand, VP Kushiro expressed his enthusiasm: "I understand that it will be my biggest task to further develop the history and tradition of Maruha Nichiro and to realize stable business management. The past two years were indicative of our well-timed merger; we continue aiming to become an indispensible company in the food industry, inheriting Maruha's overwhelming procurement power and Nichiro's capabilities of product development and technology."

On that basis, Mr. Kushiro laid out the main tasks at hand: 1) development of overseas business; 2) reinforcement of the management structure of each group company (about 200 companies); and 3) mop-up of the merger. As for the first matter of overseas business development, he said, "Japan is facing an issue of a declining birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people. It is a matter-of-course to look to overseas markets for growth strategy and we will aggressively take on M&A." Regarding the future group management, he commented: "I want to tackle the future growth strategy in a triangle format with the next Representative Directors/Vice Presidents, Maruha Nichiro Suisan President Shigeru Ito and Maruha Nichiro Foods President Michiro Sakai." Moreover, as to the driving force that realizes goals, Mr. Kushiro emphasized: "Employees' motivation is the most important thing. For that, stable management is the basic premise; how we achieve goals or get closer to the numbers we set is the key."

Picture 1: President Igarashi (left) and Mr. Kushiro President-to-be

The original article was published on February 9, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Japan's Leading Fresh Fish Store, Uoriki, Part 2: Operations in America Double

February 9, 2010

Among fresh fish specialty stores, Uoriki, headquartered in Tokyo under the management of President Shigenori Ito, has created a one of kind feel, which can only be described as pizzazz. Director Masanori Yamada, who handles the Merchandize Department, was interviewed as to the year-end sales battle and North America operations. Mr. Yamada serves as the President of Uoriki Fresh, Inc, a company set up in the US.

Uoriki Fresh's Sales Double

We launched Uoriki Fresh two years ago; and since then, we have been wholesaling fish to the fish section and sushi corner of supermarkets. Sales total of Uoriki Fresh for the US market is 200 percent year over year. In this second year, we can run a profitable business.

We ran a "Japan's fresh fish: Uoriki" fair for three consecutive weekends from November to December at our business partner Wegmans'* main store in Pittsford, NY. As a result, sales of the fresh fish section increased more than 150 percent. Korean longlined bigeye and Hokkaido scallop were offered as "sashimi grade" quality products. Other than them, we marketed fresh Japanese horse mackerel, mackerel, salmon, amberjack, Japanese seaperch, and sea bream.

Popular items were Hachikan's (Hachinohe, Aomori) broiled scallop and boiled scallop. Miso marinated fish was also well liked especially among people in NY. Matsuoka Suisan's (Choshi, Chiba) miso-marinated salmon and sablefish were favored. At the sushi corner, we simultaneously held a nigiri sushi festival. Sales made on that day were the highest, 180 percent over last year. These two events were so popular that we are planning to expand their scale this year.

Introducing and Marketing Hot Pot Set

At the Wegmans' seafood section, Japan's favorite hot pot set was put for sale. Pacific cod, shrimp, squid, clam, and vegetables sold at the store were packed as a hot pot set, offered at $30.

The temperatures hit -15 °C in winter there. Customers there had no knowledge of a hot pot; after sampling, they liked its body warming effect and healthiness and we ended up selling more than 50 sets a day.

I myself hold a knife to pass on our way of selling fish that we have long cultivated back in Japan. With Wegmans, we are promoting the ways to enjoy tasty fish for Americans, by Americans.

*Wegmans: Regional, gourmet supermarket chain, mainly on the east coast. There are 74 stores generating sales worth $5.15 billon. Greenpeace raked the company in the first place as an environmentally friendly supermarket, above Wholefoods.

"Japan Will Face Kaimake Situation in Five Year"

It is unusual that Japan is saturated with foodstuffs. In the medium- and long-term, Japan will go back to the kaimake state (defeat at the auction) in five years, as seen back in 2006 and 2007.

There is a projection that the world will need three years to recover from the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Once the global economy goes back to a healthy state, the BRIC counties like China and India, furthermore, Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries will seek abundant food, promoting more fish consumption. Preparing for inflation coming in five years, we will seek out robust companies and build strong relationships with them.

In terms of sales, we receive a great number of inquires from developers as to if we want to launch a store upon remodeling. Uoriki is highly praised like "It's the most vigorous fish store just the way it should be," because we offer fish with lower markups when going rates are low. Also, our down-to-earth business and human resources development are well acknowledged. Taking the measure of what happens in five years, we will find a balance and decide on a new store venture.

Regarding human resources for business expansion, Uoriki has employed dozens of new graduates every year in the past 20 years. We have dyed-in-the-wool employees; so our future is quire bright.

The original article was published on February 9, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Taiyo A&F President Imamura Says, "We Need to Launch Organization to Secure Southern Pacific Fishing Grounds"

February 9, 2010

Taiyo A&F President Hironobu Imamura, prior to the presentation of a far seas purse seiner Daini Fuji-Maru on February 10, made a statement: "This vessel is the third one which received a trial permit for the construction of large far seas purse seiners. To me, the presentation ceremony will not only be a moment of celebration for the completed vessel, but an opportunity to have those involved in the tuna industry understand the principle of organization for securing Southern Pacific fishing grounds that the Japan Far Seas Purse Seine Fishing Association has been promoting. And I would seek their agreement and participation. In order to protect the tuna industry imperative for Japan's food culture, food securement, as well as sustenance of local economies, I would like to launch an organization so that all the sectors, politicians, bureaucrats, and civilians, can work together toward securing fishing grounds in island nations." He further commented as follows:

Following Example of Europe, Aiming for Restoration of Japanese Fisheries

"With Japan's policy to promote trading by exporting manufactured goods, Japan's fisheries ended up with today's deteriorating structure as a result of global and economical influences. In contrast, Europe allocated a budget of \1 trillion for over the next ten years to practice measures to construct replacement vessels and to subsidize infrastructure improvements in an attempt to prevent fisheries from sliding. Furthermore, Europe is proactively making the best use of ODA to take on measures for securing fishing grounds and is building food security assurance. For Japanese fisheries to change the current situation, following the examples of Europe, politicians, bureaucrats, and civilians all come together to execute various measures."

Surviving Competition Over Fishing Grounds in WCPFC Waters

"We are a part of a mad scramble over tuna/bonito resources with other countries in the 21st century. Japan's tuna and bonito have been the center of Japanese food culture, i.e. bonito flakes and sashimi. In the bonito/tuna market, combined catches by purse seine, longline, and skipjack from the fishing grounds of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) are estimated to reach \300 billion (based on 2008) at retail price."

"The stable supply and securement of tuna/bonito is a mission given to us and we must keep up with it. Other countries' fishing vessels are making an aggressive move to island nations, located in the fishing grounds in the Western and Central Pacific, the very source of bonito and tuna. However, Japan is greatly lagging behind from Europe and the US in terms of securing fishing grounds as a national policy. There is a concern that Japan will lose the fishing grounds in the Western and Central Pacific and face difficulty supplying bonito and tuna."

Based On National Strategy, Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Civilians All Work Together

"To make it avoidable, first off, fishermen, processors, and distributors must all unite themselves and set up a new promotional base institution, an organization for securing Southern Pacific fishing grounds. Then, we all must have the government, bureaucrats, and people understand the importance of the organization and obtain strong support based on national strategy measures, so that we can take on the securing of fishing grounds in the long term."

"The Japan Far Seas Purse Seine Fishing Association has come up with the foundation body for the organization to secure fishing grounds in the Southern Pacific. We organized a preparatory committee and currently it is aiming to finish a business plan by late March. We desire to build the organization to secure fishing grounds in the Southern Pacific by seeking participations widely from not only far seas purse seine fisheries, but ocean-going longline tuna fisheries, far seas skipjack fisheries, processors, distributors, and fisheries groups."

Picture 1: President Imamura

The original article was published on February 9, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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