Few foreign companies able to attend Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo due to pandemic

Published on
November 4, 2020

The 22nd Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo took place from 30 September through 2 October at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (also called “Tokyo Big Sight”).

Amid COVID-19 travel restrictions, the number of exhibitors fell from 835 to 300, and visitors fell from 34,018 to 12,000. The most notable aspect of the show was the small international presence.

But while foreign companies were scarce, six nations still sponsored booths onsite: Germany, Ireland, Norway, Peru, South Korea, and the United States. China was represented by its local sales office, while Australia, Canada, Fiji, India, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Taiwan participated online.

A few foreign companies and organizations did make the show.

The sole company booth from Asia was Haimeng Food Ltd., based in Dong Gang, Liaoning Province, China. The company operates a modern food manufacturing facility covering an area of 7,707 square meters. Its broad product lineup is mainly reprocessing of seafood from around the world, such as boned IQF fillets of whitefish. The company has a network of sales offices, including in Japan, which means that it could participate via its local staff.

From North America, Tsukiji Fish Market Inc., a Vancouver, Canada-based fish trader with Japanese leadership, was the only company exhibiting. Japanese nationals have easier entry requirements than foreigners.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute promoted the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification program, which it used to operate, at the event. The Alaska RFM certification is based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Code and Guidelines and is recognized by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI). It was the first certification scheme to be benchmarked against GSSI’s Global Benchmark Tool, and to achieve recognition demonstrating alignment, in 2016.

From South America, Polanco Caviar, based in Montevideo, Uruguay, promoted its namesake product. The company farms sturgeon on the banks of the Rio Negro River, despite one of its premium products being called “Siberian Reserve.” The company also has a sales office in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

All in all, a combination of local representation, country booths, and online exhibition allowed a smattering of international participation for the event amid travel restrictions.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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