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Chairman of Fresh Fish Retailers Group Declares "We Will Beat Volume Retailers"

June 11, 2010

Yoshikazu Nagai, who was recently appointed as a chairman of the All Japan Fish Retailers Union at a general meeting in May, held a joint press meeting May 9 at his local town, Tsurumi, Kanagawa. He remarked on issues the Union faced and the outlook on the future operations.

The number of union members, consisting of fresh fish retailers nationwide, is trending downward; there were 25,000 members ten years ago, now the figure has declined to about 10,000. The diminishing number of fish retailers is one factor; the reality is there are a relatively large number of stores that have not joined the Union. Some union organizations net profits from real estate and ice making; there are regional differences in the way unions are operated. Chairman Nagai said, "Strong personality of each member often hinders collective action; yet, I would like to take on union activities that rely on organizational strength."

Whale meat sales, a collaborative operation with Kyodo Senpaku, have been developing well. He referred to this matter: "With the collaborative work of Tokyo Gyoshou and Kyodo Senpaku, now frozen whale meat is sold based on a 500g x 4 standard, instead of by15kg, making it easier to deal with. We want to place this successful business model "Tokyo Style" as our main operation."

The Youth Group takes on a variety of activities, such as recipe creation to further fish consumption, and accounting and computer classes in some regions.

Mr. Nagai expressed his expectation of the Youth Group: "We need to foster successors; the Union therefore is fully behind the Youth Group. They are much more active, compared to our generation. We are entering the era when mutual exchange of information is a must."

He further touched on the future of fish retailing and said, "The importance of person-to-person selling is rising. There will come a time when we can beat struggling volume retailers. With the growing aging population, we are seeing an arrival of an opportunity for community-based fish retailers."

The Union is slated to hold a national convention in Sendai, Miyagi, in September. Its theme will be "Coalition, Solidarity, and Challenge." Additionally, the Youth Group will carry out its own version of convention in Niigata in November.

Image 1: Chairman Nagai

The original article was published on June 11, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Executive Managing Director Abe Becomes New Taiyo A&F President

June 11, 2010

A subsidiary of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Unit of Maruha Nichiro Holdings, Taiyo A&F made an informal decision on new personnel changes May 9, consisting mainly of President Hironobu Imamura becoming CEO and Executive Managing Director Toshio Abe becoming a president. An official announcement will be made after deliberations at a shareholders' meeting and board meeting on May 22.

abe (left) and imamura (right)

Mr. Abe was born in December 1949, age 60. After graduating from the Dept. of Foreign Studies, The Univ. of Kita Kyushu (English major), he was hired by Taiyo Gyogyo, now Maruha Nichiro Suisan, in 1973. After completing his work in Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, he was assigned as a director of the Dept 2 of Overseas Operations in 1999 and as a board member and a director of the Dept of Asian Operations in 2005, engaging mostly in overseas operations. He became an executive managing director of Taiyo A&F in June 2008.

In today's fisheries in Japan, far seas purse seining in particular, the following undertakings are called on: an establishment of "Fishery Recovery Fund," which holds a direct relation with Japan's food security issue, and a formation of "Southern Pacific Fishing Council" to secure long-term fishing grounds in the Southern Pacific by the private sector.

President Imamura at the press meeting on May 9 mentioned the roles of Mr. Abe and himself: "As a matter of fact, Mr. Abe as a new president at the helm will be steering the company; as for myself, I will place my focus on a role to influence the country, society, as well as the industry. It is essential to craft a framework as a national policy to ensure long-term, stable fishing grounds. I want to take aggressive action to make it happen."

Mr. Abe, the new president, expressed his eagerness: "Taiyo A&F is the number one fishing company in Japan, comprising 150 executives and office staffers and crewmembers (excluding joint ventures), a total of 470 people. I am willing to make the best use of my experience overseas. Working together with Chairman Imamura I aim to present a model of Japan's fisheries. With that, I understand the importance of marketing. I would like to make this company one that doesn't flinch in the face of just a little bit of fish price fluctuations."

The original article was published on June 11, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

Latest on Demand-Supply of Frozen Seafood: Japan Gets Defeated at Auction of Shrimp and Salmon

June 11, 2010

The first 2010 Frozen Seafood Demand-Supply Review Meeting took place to discuss the outlook on the future course of demand-supply of frozen marine foods.

Resurgence of European Economy Inflating Atlantic Salmon Prices

[Salmon/Trout] Domestic Production: new crops of chum salmon are somewhat in decline compared with the previous year; the exact figure still remains unclear. Low water temperatures have discouraged the growth of Sanriku coho salmon.

Import: even though a significant decline in Chilean Atlantic salmon due to diseases has pushed a shift to trout, trout production itself is facing shrinking output, as well. In addition, the recent resurgence of the European economy in particular coupled with the market growth in Russia and Brazil, is contributing to an abrupt price spike in Atlantic salmon, as well as their substitute fish, trout. Japan is now facing the reality of a defeat at the auction (kaimake). The early harvesting and accelerated shipment of coho salmon is now resulting in drastically slacking production from April on. Consequently, the overall import amounts will considerably drop and remain so in contrast to the prior year.

Market: Chilean farmed coho salmon, a large volume of which is transacted, will not show any notable changes; however the declining inventory of trout is triggering a price rise. Their wholesale prices are believed to show a bullish trend.

America Looks to South East Asia for New Shrimp Sources

[Shrimp] Import: a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has affected the trend of vannamei shrimp. Additionally, the outbreak of the IMNV virus has put tens of thousands tons of shrimp in a devastating condition, ending in a supply decline and a resultant price swell. The condition of black tiger shrimp is also affected by a dry spell in India and Vietnam - higher concentration of salt in ponds results, leading to the deaths and/or delayed growth of the shrimp - the supply of the shrimp will be dwindling.

In the US, a bill to prohibit the imports of shrimp from Mexico as a result of the incident in the Gulf of Mexico is under deliberation; a growing America's aggressive purchasing move in South East Asia will throw Japan in a relentless kaimake situation.

Market: shrimp sales are recovering slowly, coinciding with a price rise. The retail prices are projected to show a slight bullish move compared with a year ago because of the influence of kaimake.

[Mackerel] Domestic Production: the incessant storms on the Pacific side and in Kyushu are impacting blue-backed fish, e.g. horse mackerel and mackerel, leading to a decrease in the fish of this category.

Catches from January to April in Kyushu were poorer than last year; the average price is fluctuating high between \66 and \80 per kg, pushing customers away. Despite decent demand of the fish for feed due to boiling fishmeal prices, poor catches are forging a condition of higher values. Demand of the fish for human consumption is faltering. In exports, shipping the fish out to China for processing has been steady; nevertheless, demand is slacking as a result of the dearer yen and fillets back from China are not moving well.

Market: fewer arrivals from Norway last year are now creating shortages, leading to a price hike of \40-50. It is thusly estimated that their prices will slide bullishly.

The original article was published on June 11, 2010 and was translated by Kiyo Hayasaka.

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