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Aeon Extends MSC Products to 17 Items

May 21, 2010

Aeon is slated to extend the marketing of its MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) eco-labeled private brand "Top Value" beginning on the 22nd. Seven products (17 items), the largest number handled in retailers in Japan, will be sold at its group stores of JUSCO, SATY, MaxValu, and AEON SUPERCENTER, a total of about 1,200 locations. This undertaking corresponds to "World Biodiversity Day" on the 22nd.

The Company launched into the marketing of MSC labeled products in November 2006, developing a product line of "TopValu Green Eye" that consisted of three products (eight items), soy sauce marinated salmon roe, salted wild sockeye salmon, and flathead flounder.

This time, the existing products under "TopValu Green Eye" have been renovated as "TopValu." In addition, a new lineup has become part of the list: "Salted Mackerel (Norway)" (four slices for \198); "Soy Sauce Marinated Trout Roe (Russia)" (70g for \398) and "Soy Sauce Marinated Sockeye Salmon Roe (US)" (95g for \398).

This project has been executed under "AEON Biodiversity Policies" formulated in March. The Company made a comment on an increase in MSC labeled products: "This is our way of showing that the Company contributes to the protection of marine resources and the preservation of biodiversity by offering opportunities for consumers to experience firsthand marine products created by sustainable fisheries. The Company is willing to continue suggesting environmentally friendly products that preserve limited marine resources."

The original article was published on May 21, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Frozen Tuna: Shaky Supply Despite Consumption Comeback

May 21, 2010

According to one tuna wholesaler, frozen tuna consumption, which had been lethargic due to a worldwide economic downturn caused by a collapse of subprime loans, has lately shown signs of recovery. The cooperating weather during this year's Golden Week Holidays further boosted consumption of tuna. Nevertheless, with an unrelenting trend of low prices at mass retailers, a product priced higher than \298 (100g) at retailers exhibits stagnation. For this reason, when a supply decline in frozen tuna, as a raw material, triggers a hike in port auction prices, it will adversely affect sales.

As a consequence of a recession set off by a subprime loan crisis in autumn two years ago, frozen tuna sales and prices were forced to become sluggish. A luxury item of Mediterranean bluefin tuna witnessed a price plummet from \4,000 to \2,800/kg, ending in a saturation of stocks that had nowhere to go. However, after all, the stocks gradually found their way to market. The consumption of frozen bigeye tuna as a deli product is progressively getting better; tuna processors in Shizuoka Prefecture are now actively operating.

Predicted Arrival Increase from April to May

A stakeholder of a tuna wholesaler said, "Tuna consumption is coming back. During the period of April to May a concentrated number of fishing boats and tender ships enter ports, leaving us a great deal of supply. The port price of medium size bigeye runs from \800 to 850/kg, satisfying a store price level of \298/g. Yet, poor catches in the Indian Ocean and shaky catches seen in the Pacific that were great last year are our concerns for this year. Furthermore, fishing quota contractions of newly emerging counties, like China, because of more stringent stock management and also increasing fuel prices again, which caused partial fishing halt of Taiwanese vessels; these things can affect the tuna supply." He predicted a tad bit of supply decline in the near future.

He further stated: "Because of enlarging sizes of purse seiners, PS yellowfin tunas have begun to be marketed as sashimi. We will start to see some issues involving PS yellowfin, like a formulation of PS yellowfin handling manual. What is indispensible to longline fisheries of not only Japan but other countries is tuna processors and distributors. It is about time for not only Japan but other nations to have a solid vision of how we will maintain tuna longline fisheries over the next ten years."

The original article was published on May 21, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Comparing Previous Fiscal Year's Transaction Volumes, Amounts, and Unit Prices of Leading Seafood Companies

May 18, 2010

Maruha Nichiro Suisan: Surimi Declines by 10,000 tons

The transaction volume of Maruha Nichiro Suisan totaled 228,000 tons, a drop of about 13,000 tons from the previous year's result (241,000 tons). The average unit price fell by \57; the value amount decreased \23.2 billion from the prior year.

Surimi exhibited the largest decline, which was 10,000 tons. Northern and Southern frozen fish varieties, crab, octopus, and squid went down as well; their unit prices also slumped.

Despite a rise of 1,500 tons in shrimp, its unit price plunged so much that sales fell short of the last year's performance. Tuna likewise increased its amount by 20 percent; however its unit price tumbled by 20 percent, leading to a 4 percent drop in sales.

Nippon Suisan: Plunging Unit Prices Result in Sales Decline Despite Increase in Surimi

Nippon Suisan experienced declines in major commodities of crab, shrimp, salmon/trout, and cod roe, except for an increase of 11,000 tons in surimi. Unit prices, other than salmon/trout, all plunged. Salmon/trout and cod roe monetarily caused a painful blow to the Company.

Though surimi rose to 38,500 tons, its unit price showed a serious drop of 36 percent, ending in a sales decline of \1.2 billion. Salmon/trout went down by more than 7,000 tons, totaling 34,136 tons; in spite of a 6 percent rise in unit price, total losses were \3.6 billion, the biggest loss among major fish items.

Cod roe shrank by \3.5 billion. Additionally, its volume decreased 1,157 tons. The unit price also slumped 24 percent.

Kyokuyo: Plunges in Unit Prices Lead to Revenue Decline

The total transaction volume of Kyokuyo displayed a slight fall; slumping unit prices were the direct cause of a sales contraction. During the first half of the fiscal term, Northern fish, such as flounder, experienced reductions and the retail prices of high unit price commodities, such as crab, plummeted; cumulating in a \3.6 billion loss in sales. Salmon/trout and blue-backed fish varieties (mackerel, saury, herring, etc.) increased. In contrast, Northern fish varieties exhibited large decreases.

Profit-wise, the Company generated profits by making conscious efforts to develop and sell Matsubara stingfish fillets and added value products, such as shrimp and salmon; profits were also buoyed by a rigorous practice of buying the right amount at the right time.

Maruha Nichiro
 FY Ended March 2010FY Ended March 2009Year-Over-Year Comp.
QuantityAmountUnit PriceQuantityAmountUnit PriceQuantityAmountUnit Price
Southern Fish10,8496,50560013,2868,25062181.7%78.8%96.6%
Northern Fish48,13515,59332449,73818,20536696.8%85.7%88.5%
Fish Roe8,52310,4541,2278,18911,3271,383104.1%92.3%88.7%

Nippon Suisan (single entiity)
 FY Ended March 2010FY Ended March 2009Year-Over-Year Comp.
QuantityAmountUnit PriceQuantityAmountUnit PriceQuantityAmountUnit Price
Cod Roe4,6945,5491,1824,6945,5491,547100.0%100.0%76.4%

Kyokuyo (single entitiy)
 FY Ended March 2010FY Ended March 2009Year-Over-Year Comp.
QuantityAmountUnit PriceQuantityAmountUnit PriceQuantityAmountUnit Price
Southern Fish6,4193,8175956,8904,24061593.2%90.0%96.7%
Northern Fish38,27215,89441539,93917,50843895.8%90.8%94.7%
Fish Roe3,1494,1361,3142,9154,2231,449108.0%97.9%90.7%
(Quantity: ton; Amount: a million yen; Unit Price: yen/kg)

The original article was published on May 18, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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