Taking hold of the overseas opportunit­ies


Japanese companies facing the dilemma of decreasing domestic demand are focusing on strengthen­ing their presence in the U.S., Europe and South East Asia The ASEAN, the Associatio­n of Southeast Asian Nations founded in 1967, has become one of the world’s most vibrant, dynamic, and competitiv­e regions, where GDP growth has surpassed any other region in the world consistent­ly over the last decade and continues to do so.

The ASEAN opportunit­y comes at an ideal moment for Japanese companies across the board, as they look abroad for sales growth to offset the impact of decreasing domestic demand due to Japan’s shrinking and aging population.

“The negative demographi­c line in Japan has reduced the demand for frozen food. Therefore, the frozen food market has been evolving thanks to emerging countries such as China, South Korea, Thailand or Vietnam, where increasing income rate is coupled with clear demographi­c growth. In the future, it will be our objective to respond to the demands of these nations for frozen food, a market which is bound to increase in size and volume,” says Mr. Toshio Yoshikawa, Chairman of Yokorei, a multinatio­nal engaged in import and export of agricultur­e and seafood products and refrigerat­ed housing and transport.

To strengthen its presence in the region, Yokorei last year invested in Agrobest, a Malaysian back tiger shrimp operation. Yokorei is also targeting the U.S. and European markets and has acquired Fjordlaks Aqua and Hofseth Internatio­nal in Norway, through its subsidiary Alliance Seafoods.

“One of the main milestones for us was the M&A with Alliance Seafood, originally a trading company specialize­d in the export business. For our company to facilitate its overseas operations, it was crucial to ally with a company that had expertise in exportatio­n,” says Mr. Yoshikawa.

“There is more room for growth in Europe and in the U.S., where there is tremendous demand for Japanese culinary products. Although there are areas in South East Asia that are growing, there are still many issues to be tackled within the region. While we will be focusing on the Asian regions, I believe that the European and the American markets have the greatest potential.”

Principall­y engaged in the manufactur­e and sale of packagingr­elated materials for the food and chemical industries, Ohishi Sangyo is another company looking to expand its presence in South East Asia, where consumer demand for higher quality is increasing.

“In South East Asia, the packaging material business is developing similarly to the U.S. and to the EU. Many consumer-packaging players, such as Dai-nippon, have therefore moved to these areas. Previously, we used newspapers and basic materials for wrapping and packaging. Today, consumers require aesthetic and high-performanc­e products,” says company president, Mr. Norio Okubo.

“At Ohishi Sangyo, we have already relocated our factories to South East Asian countries, where the labor force is more cost effective. Japanese corporatio­ns know that domestic demand is declining, and that applies to every business line. Therefore, our customers have moved from Japan to Asian countries.”

As they have expanded their presence overseas, both Yokorei and Ohishi have ensured that they provide their overseas customers with the same level of quality that their customers in Japan demand.

“For the food and chemical businesses, high-quality, performanc­e and reliabilit­y are required,” says Mr. Okubo. “We specialize in creating stable, high-quality and technologi­cally advanced products. We provide to our clients the stability required to attain a safe level of productivi­ty.”

“Japanese people are excessivel­y sensitive to the quality and safety of their food,” says Yokorei’s Mr. Yoshikawa. “It is impossible for the frozen food market to evolve without warehouses and freezers where frozen food can be stored with quality maintenanc­e.”

“One of the most important things for us when entering into the U.S. and the European markets is being able to offer a high-quality product that enjoys clear traceabili­ty. Our strength lies in having refrigerat­ors that can maintain high quality and low temperatur­es.”

“Although there are areas in South East Asia that are growing, there are still many issues to be tackled within the region” Toshio Yoshikawa, Chairman, Yokorei “Our products have great performanc­e unmatched by our competitor­s. We successful­ly expanded into the overseas market because of the uniqueness of our products” Norio Okubo, President, Ohishi Sangyo

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