Japan’s largest sushi restaurant operator partners with BlueNalu

Published on
January 26, 2022
The logos of Food and Life Companies and BlueNalu.

San Diego, California, U.S.A.-based cell-based seafood startup BlueNalu has announced a new partnership with Food and Life Companies (F&LC), the largest sushi-restaurant operator in Japan.

F&LC operates restaurant brands including Sushiro and Kyotaru, with over 1,000 restaurants in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and China. BlueNalu said the two companies plan to collaborate on product development and marketing, with the Japanese company offering support to navigate the regulatory framework in Japan to accelerate BlueNalu’s commercialization in the country.

“Food and Life Companies is a global leader in the sushi restaurant business, and BlueNalu is thrilled to partner with their team to continue the innovative legacy of their iconic brands,” BlueNalu President and CEO Lou Cooperhouse said.

As part of its effort to make a foray into the sushi market, BlueNalu and F&LC will initially focus on the belly portion of bluefin tuna, known as toro, which often carries a high value.

“By centering our initial efforts on the high-quality toro portion of bluefin tuna, we aim to demonstrate culinary excellence with the most-prized portion of the most sought-after fish in the most-iconic marketplace for seafood,” Cooperhouse said.

F&LC President and CEO Koichi Mizutome said the partnership is intended to help secure the company’s access to products it needs for continued survival.

“With the uncertainty of natural marine resources in the future, it is important that we secure a stable supply of seafood in a more-sustainable manner,” Mizutome said. “We have already been promoting the use of farmed seafood as one of the ways to achieve this, but as seafood demand increases in the future, there will be increasing challenges with our global supply chain.”

The partnership is the latest of several recently announced by BlueNalu, which has been oversubscribed for multiple funding rounds. Early in 2021, it announced investments form Thai Union and Rich Products, and has also signed a memorandums of understanding with Thai Union and with the Mitsubishi Corporation. Later in 2021, the company also began collaborating with Nomad Foods, the U.K.-headquartered frozen foods company. The partnerships are part of the company's global business strategy, BlueNalu said.

“BlueNalu’s business strategy is to partner with leading multinational companies on market research, regulatory affairs, product design and development, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and distribution, with an aim to efficiently and effectively bring BlueNalu’s branded cell-cultured seafood products to consumers worldwide,” the company said.

BlueNalu is currently constructing a larger development facility and recently appointed a former Starbucks executive to its board of directors.  

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