Sushi, ramen restaurants at center of True World Group expansion plans
True World Group, a 35-year-old supplier of seafood and other products to Asian markets and sushi restaurants, will soon be servicing mainstream United States supermarkets and retailers. It’s also planning on expanding its restaurant business.
The Rockleigh, New Jersey-based food company, which nets more than USD 500 million (EUR 472 million) in sales annually, had made plans to open more of the Asian grocery stores it operates, as well as adding a chain of ramen restaurants and Japanese bakeries to the four sushi restaurants it already owns.
“We are developing a broad group offering to Western mainstream retailers and Western foodservice,” True World Group President Robert Bleu told SeafoodSource. “We can offer all types of Alaskan fish, along with surimi and all the Asian seafood items and other restaurant products. We source tuna all over the world, for example.”
True World Group’s primary business, True World Foods, distributes sushi-grade fish to 8,200 restaurants from 23 distribution centers in the U.S., Canada, London and Madrid. It ships yellowfin tuna and other fresh seafood directly from the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Japan. The diversified firm also sells sushi restaurant equipment and supplies.
“We supply Japanese sushi chefs, who are the most demanding seafood customers, so we know how to do really good, fresh fish,” Bleu said. “
True World Group also operates International Seafoods of Alaska, which processes wild fish from Alaska. Its Kodiak Seafood packaged-seafood line includes wild salmon, cod, pollock, halibut, rockfish and other species. Plus, the company can supply surimi via its ownership of Shining Ocean in Sumner, Washington, which suppliers both wholesale and retail customers.
In addition to widening its distribution, True World Group also has plans to expand its restaurant and grocery concepts. It currently operates two One World Market restaurants in Indianapolis, Indiana, and Novi, Michigan, along with Noble Fish in Clausen, Michigan. The in-store cafes in each location offer fresh sushi, udon noodle bowls, bento boxes and other Asian specialties. In fact, the Noble Fish location is primarily a sushi restaurant, with the remaining 25 percent of the consisting of grocery offerings, according to Bleu.
“We have a successful take-out business: our restaurants are doing high-end sushi,” Bleu said. “Our markets tend to be in upscale suburbs, and our focus is double-working couples with kids, who are time-constrained and health-conscious.”
In addition to sushi and other restaurant-style food, the stores include fresh seafood departments. While Noble Fish is 11,000 square feet, One World plans to open a “big footprint” marketplace this year, according to Bleu. True World Group already operates four sushi restaurants, and is developing a ramen restaurant concept as well.
“We think there is a lot of opportunity in ramen going forward, especially with millennials,” Bleu said. Two of the company’s chefs are developing the ramen concept menu, after doing a tour of ramen restaurants in Japan.
The company also plans to add additional sushi restaurants, but Bleu declined to reveal details. However, he said the company’s diverse holdings give it a leg-up in identifying and pursuing potentially lucrative opportunities in the seafood sector.
“No one has a collection of assets like we do,” he said.