Japan Seafood & Technology Expo roundup

Highlights from last week’s ninth annual Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo at Tokyo Big Sight, which featured approximately 30,000 visitors and 550 exhibitors:

• Kasuhisa Fukumoto of the Norwegian Seafood Export Council said Norwegian farmed salmon is benefiting from strong demand due to the infectious salmon anemia outbreak in Chile, which has curbed farmed salmon production there. However, because of the long-term nature of their business relationships in Japan, any price increases must be gradual, he said. He estimates that it may take three years for Chile’s farmed salmon industry to recover.

• Vietnamese exhibitors pushed many processed seafood items, mostly prawns and squid, for both retail and restaurant applications. Vietnam’s government is supporting a strong trade show marketing effort in the lead-up to tariff reductions under a new free trade agreement with Japan.

• India, China and Taiwan were well represented at the show. There was a steady line for tilapia sushi samples at Taiwan Frozen Seafood Association’s booth. Tan Hou Ocean Development Co. of Taiwan displayed farmed grouper and cobia. The cobia farming industry is still in its infancy; it is raised in deep-water open-ocean pens.

• Several Korean companies offered seaweed. Koreans coat their seaweed with sesame oil or other oils before roasting, while Japanese nori is usually plain or coated with a soy sauce mixture. Korean seaweed is cheaper than Japanese product and is gaining popularity as a snack for kids, or with beer.

• Fish processing machinery and kitchen equipment were prominent at the show. Tsunezawa Trading of Kesennuma, Japan, offered a newly developed machine for removing pin bones of saba (mackerel) and aji (horse mackerel). While salmon deboners have existed for years, the softer mackerel bones are easily broken to remain in the flesh. The new machine removes more than 95 percent of the pin bones, though it does leave a rougher appearance than deboning by hand. Fujiseiki Co. demonstrated a machine that forms rice for nigiri sushi and packs it into a tray. The same product was used at the show by other companies to keep up with brisk demand for samples.

• The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute emphasized “wild and sustainable,” in contrast to show’s heavy aquaculture presence.

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