Japanese seafood processor finding success with plastic pouch packs

A plastic pouch pack of seafood made by Kaneyoshi

Seafood-processing company Kaneyoshi is capitalizing on the quirks of Japan’s recycling and tax systems to increase sales of its plastic-packaged consumer products.

At the FOODEX in Kansai trade show, held over the summer in Osaka, Japan, Kaneyoshi displayed its line of seafood packed in plastic pouches. It's seeking to capitalize on growing consumer calls for shelf-stable, yet still high-quality food products. Kaneyoshi Quality Control Manager Masaaki Osugi exhibited the pouch-packed seafood, which comes in a variety of flavors, including mackerel stewed in miso soup, Arabesque greenling with basil, conger eel, and saury, under the company’s Kaneyu brand.

“Retort packs are becoming popular for their convenience,” Osugi said. “They’re easy to throw away.”

That ease is extremely important to Japanese consumers, according to Osugi, because Japan’s recycling system picks up plastic more often than it does other materials. In most areas, trash services collect canned products just twice a month, while the service collects plastic weekly. As fish products can begin to smell the longer they’re left out – and often take up more space in canned form – consumers have prioritized products packaged in plastic, such as the company’s retort packs, that they know are condensable and will only be in their homes for a short time.

Even though the pouch packs hit all the boxes of what Japanese consumers are looking for, when the company first introduced the pouches, they were not an immediate hit. However, they started to gain traction as a hometown tax return item. Japan’s furusato nozei, or hometown tax system, is a tax incentive scheme to support smaller, cash-strapped municipalities in Japan. It allows taxpayers to donate money to local governments in areas where they don’t live in return for residence tax cuts. Taxpayers often receive a thank-you gift, most of which are food products, and in Hokkaido seafood is a leading item – with the pouch packs being a particularly popular.

The products began to garner more attention when ... 

Photo courtesy of Kaneyoshi

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