Look For Further Consolidation, Says Maruha Nichiro's Yoneoka
New products, new customers, new buzzwords. The International Boston Seafood Show, which opened yesterday without a hitch despite Friday's blinding snowstorm, always delivers something new for seafood buyers and suppliers. One constant over the years is talk of consolidation, and, according to one high-ranking seafood executive, 2008 is no exception.
"More than likely, as the seafood industry continues to mature worldwide and the marketplace becomes ever more global, we can expect firms to consolidate for cost efficiency and better market penetration," Junichiro Yoneoka, head of Maruha Nichiro Holdings' U.S. operations in Seattle, said at the show yesterday.
"More and more seafood products are becoming of a commodity nature, and, as in U.S. agriculture in the past 50 years, consolidation is a common method to achieve better cost control and product development," he said.
Maruha Group and Nichiro Corp. completed their merger last October, forming the world's largest seafood company. The deal includes numerous U.S. seafood suppliers: Westward Seafoods, Supreme Alaska Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Prime Pacific Seafoods, Peter Pan Seafoods and Golden Alaska Seafoods, all of Seattle; Orca Bay Seafoods of Renton, Wash.; and Trans-Ocean Products of Bellingham, Wash.
Maruha Nichiro is looking to expand its U.S. presence, said Yoneoka, who's attending the show for the first time.
"We are always interested in growing our business," he said. "Most likely we will be looking for prospective companies and brands that will position us closer to our customers and the market."
Maruha Nichiro expects its sales to reach $10 billion worldwide by 2011, said Yoneoka, who's been with the company since 1978.
"The health benefits of seafood are unquestionable," he added, "and our conservative science-based resource management in Alaska guarantees a sustainable future."
Yoneoka will be featured in the One on One column of SeaFood Business' April issue.