High fish prices weigh on U.S. sushi restaurants
October 23, 2007
Sushi has become a popular cuisine in the U.S., but some
sushi restaurant owners are hit hard by high costs of fish,
according to phone interviews by Suisan Times.
Purchase prices of king of sushi, tuna, have jumped in the
past couple of years. The interview revealed that prices of
yellowfin or ahi tuna were ranged from $13 to $18 per pound,
which was about $10 five years ago.
Megumi Kim, the owner chef at Tomo Sushi in Pleasanton, California
says fish prices have climbed significantly in the past year.
"Tuna has risen about 30% from the last year, so has
flounder. To cut the rising costs, I can`t help but use talbot
instead of flounder. I know some sushi restaurants are using
escolar, saying special toro. As the supply of Norwegian mackerel
is not steady, I alternatively use Japanese Seki Saba (mackerel).
But Americans like fatter fish better, which gives me a headache"
Another sushi restaurant in Pleasanton, Momiji`s Hiroshi Sagara
makes a point that traditional Japanese style sushi restaurants
are in a worse predicament.
"If you still like to offer sashimi dinner for $20, you
have to either lower quality or reduce the portion size. The
traditional Japanese sushi restaurants are not profitable.
On the other hand, Chinese or Korean owned restaurants make
better margins. For example, if you deep-fry regular $4.50
California roll, garnish it with mayonnaise or spicy sauce,
you can sell it for $7.50 or $8.00."
Yoshihiro Yamamoto, the owner of a popular downtown Petaluma
restaurant, Hiro`s, and a former Heinz Japan CEO, stresses
that the Japanese-owned restaurants should also have the brave
to try new species to bring prices down and said, "We
are planning on adding a new roll with tempura whitefish to
our menu. As long as taste is good and satisfactory, I think
we should use catfish or tilapia, which is not commonly consumed
Furuno`s first half current earnings soared
October 23, 2007
Furuno`s first half sales increased 11% to \47.1 billion
compared to the previous year, while current earnings jumped
50% to \4.93 billion. Net earnings also grew 25.6% to \2.69
The company states that steady sales of marine electronic
equipment and foreign currency transaction gains contributed
the good result.
Sales of newly introduced scanning fishing sonar for domestic
market went well, while I demand of shipbuilding is strong
in China and Korea, the company said.
Furuno`s full-business year target sales are \93 billion,
an 9.3% increase from last year. Its projected bottom-line
profits are \3.65 billion. The interim and annual dividends
per share are \6 and \8, respectively.
Furuno is a leading Japanese marine equipment manufacturer
that has about 50% share of the global marine radar market.
Yoichi Imamura, president of Daito Gyorui eyes
October 22, 2007
Suisan Times: Congratulations on your 60th anniversary.
This is a momentous step for the company. Please let us know
your future goals and corporate strategy.
Yoichi Imamura, President of Daito Gyorui:
Our greatest goal is strengthening wholesale establishment
but I could say future business expansion is not easy. So
we like to carry out thorough credit management and build
a solid business foundation.
Sourcing is becoming thready. Some time ago wholesalers would
just wait for products to be shipped in, but this is really
a call for us now to look far to secure raw materials. Either
from home and abroad, we will positively approach sourcing.
It`s worth pursuing business collaborations or capital participations
with overseas fishing and aquaculture companies.
ST: Any new sales directions?
YI: We see middle traders
as our main clients and this won`t be changed and yet we need
to take up challenges with seafood wholesale catering sector.
Consumers are showing more concerns over food safety and interests
in domestic seafood products. Therefore, we will promote products
with themes, such as seasonal seafood, seafood by regions
and compositive presentation with all elements encompassed.
We have limitations of selling whole fish with weaker demand
of fish, escalates the level of processed value-added products.
ST: You`re eager to launch into new businesses.
YI: As the core of the business, wholesale
establishment, is losing its magnitude, we have been working
on creating different pillars. We are trying various things,
without dreading failure. I undoubtedly expect the success
of newly built fresh seafood processing plant in Toyomi (where
it`s near Tsukiji market`s proposed location). The workshop
was opened in June. Although we started processing bonito,
tuna and salmon, it is still in the preparatory stage and
more items will be added in the near future. I am thrilled
because the possibilities are endless.
ST: How is the merger of Maruha and Nichiro affecting
YI: We can make the sourcing more stabilized.
Moreover, we expect to have more chances of co-developing
products using domestic seafood. Obviously, tuna SKUs will
be larger because Mauha Nichiro Holdings focus on domestic
farmed tuna business.
ST: What about the relocation of Tsukiji market?
YI: I have a mixed feeling of expectation
and anxiety. The biggest fear is increased costs arising from
the relocation, such as increased royalty on the market and
higher equipment costs. We hope we can trim down our operation
and make it more efficient. To achieve that, we have to fully
utilize the opportunities offered by IT. We, in cooperation
with other vendors, are in a process of unifying information
and distribution system.
Kyokuyo: Impactful innovation necessary
to expand frozen sushi in the E.U
October 19, 2007
Sushi got a lot of attention at Anuga food show.
Kyokuyo and Hokkaido-based Foodreams offered free sampling
of frozen sushi and attracted many visitors, reflecting the
growing popularity of sushi in the E.U.
But, Makoto Amato, Kyokuyo`s overseas operational director,
was not very satisfied and sought to make inroads deep into
"When we offer sampling of sushi we get great feedback,
which ensures the promising future of the frozen sushi in
the E.U., but I do also realize that impactful innovation
is necessary to boost sales", he said.
JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) set up Japanese
pavilion of 32 stalls from 24 companies. Participants showed
mainly sushi related items, such as frozen sushi, rice vinegar,
wasabi, soy sauce, signifying a strong will to vulgarize the
Japanese culinary, as well as the volume of seafood products.
Kyokuyo faces downward revision
October 17, 2007
Kyokuyo`s stag in the first and second quarters forces to
change its full business year performance to a lower level.
Kiyokazu Fukui, Kyokuyo`s CEO said, ﾒWe couldn`t get off to
a good start in the first quarter. Unfortunately we struck
out in the second quarter, as well. There`s a huge gap between
our target and actual showing and we are failing to meet performance
target. We are forced to make a downward revision"
He made the comment at a Tokyo Kyokuyo meeting, which drew
The company explained erroneous purchases of Argentina velvet
shrimp and salmon, rising costs of raw materials and goods
deflation and Chinese food bashing are the main factors of
To recover the loss, Fukui stresses the significance of frozen
sushi and global strategy.
"We will go far in global strategy and the development
of products of higher values. Frozen sushi business will be
the key" he added.
Kyokuyo`s target this fiscal year (started April) is operating
profit of \3.8 billion on sales of \161 billion (161,000,000,000).
Chuo Gyorui`s president laments over Japan`s
less power to secure seafood
October 16, 2007
Chuo Gyorui`s president, Hiroyasu Itoh, laments over the
fact that Japan has less power to secure seafood products
in the burgeoning fish market.
"A gap between Japanese and other markets surely widens.
The Japanese seafood market has lost its vigor and stream.
With prices soaring, we cannot bid on enough fish."
But Itoh still keeps his chin up and believes fish is favored
by the Japanese. He says Fish Meister Course he just started
drew much attention and there`s rush of applicants and many
people are on the waiting list, although fee is costly.
"I still believe the demand for fish is huge. The problem
is young people do not have enough knowledge of in-season
seafood or preparation of fish. People in the industry only
look at the dark side. Rather, we should try to look on the
bright side" said Itoh.
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