Maruha Nichiro buys minority stake in surimi specialist Kibun Foods

A rendering of a Kibun Foods USA facility
A rendering of a Kibun Foods USA facility | Image courtesy of Kibun Foods
4 Min

Maruha Nichiro has acquired a 9.9 percent stake in surimi specialist Kibun Foods for JPY 2.8 billion (USD 18.5 million, EUR 17.1 million).

On 25 March, Maruha Nichiro entered into a stock purchase agreement with the company's two largest shareholders – the heirs of Kibun Food Owner Masahito Hoashi, who died in June 2023, and Kiho Trading – that will see it purchase 2.26 million shares for JPY 1,247 (USD 8.23, EUR 7.61) per share.

“Kibun Foods has been delivering outstanding products to customers for many years,” Maruha Nichiro said in a statement. “We have decided to enter into this alliance agreement with the aim of expanding both companies' food businesses. Leveraging the strengths of each party, we aim to expand collaboration in the food industry both domestically and internationally. Additionally, we will explore new market creation through joint efforts in new product development, aiming to enhance customer value and increase the corporate value of both companies.” 

Tokyo, Japan-based Kibun Foods is a manufacturer of food products including surimi-based products and other specialty foods for Japanese cuisine. It operates seven subsidiaries in Japan and additional subsidiaries in Seattle, Washington, and Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.; Hong Kong; South Korea; China; Thailand; Singapore; and The Netherlands. It posted JPY 105 billion (USD 693.8 million, EUR 641.1 million) in sales and JPY 442 million (USD 2.9 million, EUR 2.7 million) in profit in 2023. The company went public in April 2021.

The two companies have agreed to work together on product development, manufacturing, sales, and logistics in Japan, and to develop joint sales and marketing efforts in the U.S., E.U., and Asia, according to Maruha Nichiro, which also has a large surimi business.

Tokyo-based Maruha Nichiro said the acquisition would have a limited impact on its annual results, with net sales predicted to remain at JPY 1 trillion (USD 6.6 billion, EUR 6.1 billion) and net income at JPY 22 billion (USD 145.4 million, EUR 134.3 million). In February 2024, it reported its operating income dropped 5.9 percent to JPY 25.4 billion (USD 168.7 million, EUR 155.9 million) for the period stretching from April to December 2023, with sales up 21 percent in Europe year over year, but down 7 percent in Asia and 24 percent in North America.

In addition to its Japanese surimi operations, Maruha Nichiro owns Bellingham, Washington, U.S.A.-based surimi products manufacturer Trans-Ocean Products. Maruha Nichiro has also taken stakes recently in other seafood companies including Northcoast Seafoods (via its Seafood Connection subsidiary), Happi Foodi and Nosh Corporation, Japanese tuna firm Marine Access, and Sai Gon Food, as well as cell-cultivated seafood start-up UMAMI Bioworks. It also purchased harvesting and processing assets, including quota, from Icicle Seafoods, a subsidiary of Cooke Seafoods.

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