Trident Seafood’s Japan joint-venture producing crab-flavored surimi sticks
A joint venture factory in Onagawa-cho, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan – featuring a partnership between Seattle-based Trident Seafoods Corp. and local company Takamasa Co. Ltd. – has been operating since its completion on 11 May making crab-flavored surimi sticks.
The Minato Shimbun reported that the plant is operating with two lines and 45 employees, and that the company plans to produce 500 to 600 metric tons in the first year. The surimi sticks are sold under the brand, “Peace Crab” in four varieties: two in consumer packs and two for foodservice use. Though they will eventually be sold nationwide, sales are currently mainly in the Tohoku, Hokkaido and Kanto regions – that is to say, around Tokyo, and north of Tokyo in Japan.
In Japan, such products are termed “kani-kama” (crab fishcake). The appearance, shape, and color are more realistic than the uniform straight sticks more commonly seen.
The new joint-venture is operated under the company name "Mangoku no Tsubu."
The plant is expected to acquire U.S. HACCP certification in August, which would allow it to export to the U.S. The Japanese government maintains a list of Japanese seafood exporters that have acquired the certification. The current list was last updated on 1 June.
Construction on the facility began nearly a year earlier, in June of last year, at the site measuring 2500 tsubo (2.05 acres, or 0.82 hectares), according to a report by the Suisan Times. The project was first announced following the April opening of a separate plant operated as a joint-venture between Trident Seafoods and Kesennuma, Japan-based Osabe Foods for processing single-frozen pollock fillets.
The Kessanuma plant has two production lines – one for breaded products and the other for un-breaded. The un-breaded line is turning out a pollock product called “Salad Fish” that is formed, cooked, and vacuum-packed with seasoning, for example, garlic pepper. It is to be sold through convenience stores.
Both the crab-flavored surimi sticks and the cooked pollock are a good fit for the current market demand in Japan. According to the White Paper on Fisheries of 2009, the keys to increasing fish consumption are easy preparation for the sake of busy working moms, and lack of fishy smell and bones for kids. Accordingly, ready-to-eat seafood items are increasing in Japan.