Australian seafood, US tech highlight Seafood Show Osaka

Published on
March 11, 2020

The 17th Seafood Show Osaka 2020 took place as planned on 19 and 20 February, despite a general anxiety in Japan about the spread of COVID-19. The event, held at the Asia Pacific Trade Center (ATC), is the largest food trade fair in western Japan. It had over 267 exhibitors and 15,892 visitors in 2019; This year, there were 288 exhibitors. However, the number of visitors, at 13,574, was down.

The show was held in conjunction with the Agri-Food Expo, which allows buyers to efficiently source both seafood and agricultural products. There are also some concurrent seafood related shows within the show, sharing the same event floor: Sushi Expo, Smart Fish Technology, and Aquaculture Technology.

Several other organizations endorsed or co-operated with the show: the Japan Fisheries Association, International Fugu Association, Recirculating Aquaculture System Japan, and Japan International Seafood and Technology Expo. The latter is a sister show held in Tokyo (30 September to 2 October this year). It draws more overseas exhibitors and visitors, while the Seafood Show Osaka is mainly aimed at the domestic market.

There were a few foreign exhibitors at the Osaka show, with Indonesian and Canadian companies among the most prominent. Displaying in the Indonesian booth area were Jakarta-based PT Perikan Nusantara Persero, and Surumbaya-based PT EdmarMandiri Jaya. The former, which used to be a state-owned fishing company, offers a wide range of seafood, among which the most interesting to Japan may be octopus. The company has cooperated with Ibaraki, Japan-based Airushi, Inc. for octopus exports since 2015. The latter specializes in sustainable pole- and line-caught tuna.

Also at the show, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture-based importer and distributor Blue Link displayed Huon Tasmanian salmon, Kirari-brand Canadian farmed sablefish, Saltspring Island Mussels from British Columbia, sea grapes from Vietnam; and a new product, Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii), not really a cod, but rather a large predatory freshwater fish from Australia.

Many of the booths at the trade show are booked by prefectural fisheries co-operative associations, which tend to display a wide variety of local seafood items. This gives a good overview of the production of each area of Japan, but lessens the impact on visitors, as compared to seeing a single species highlighted.

One eye-catching item displayed by JF Noboeka City Fishery Cooperative (Miyazaki Prefecture) was the noble scallop, a multicolored shellfish known as hiougi-gai in Japanese. Section Chief Masayoshi Abe said that it the cooperative just recently began farming the species, and the marketing channel has not yet been decided. He said it would make a striking display suitable for weddings or gifts, and estimated the wholesale price will be about JPY 3,000 (USD 27.76, EUR 25.17) for a polystyrene box of 18, with volume discounts possible.

A system for farming sea urchins, using a specially developed kelp-based feed, was promoted by Tokyo-based Urchinomics. Founder and CEO Brian Tsuyoshi Takeda said that in Japan, it is necessary to partner with a local fishery cooperative, as they have priority rights to harvest the urchins.

“Whether this concept lives or dies depends on gaining the support of the fishery cooperatives,” he told SeafoodSource.

The company, which also has offices in Canada, The Netherlands, and Norway, is actively seeking partners with access to urchins.

In the equipment area, Blue Robotics, based in Torrance, California, U.S.A., displayed an underwater remotely operated vehicle “BlueROV2” that can be used to inspect net pens. The unit has lights and live cameras and can be further equipped with sonar and GPS. It is controlled by a laptop via a tether line. It is advertised on the company website at USD 2,989 to USD 4,939 (EUR 2,709 to EUR 4,476), depending on the selected features, such as number of lights and length of tether.

Osaka, Japan-based First Scene Inc. offered a variety of underwater cameras, some mounted on a fishing pole to be lowered into the water. Others are fixed to a float. Its ROV starts at JPY 380,000 (USD 3,516, EUR 3,187).

Photo courtesy of Chris Loew/SeafoodSource

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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