Maruha Nichiro collaboration with Japanese college leads to herring, sardine convenience products

Students at the Shoin Women's College displaying new products created through a partnership with Maruha Nichiro
Students at the Shoin Women's College displaying new products created through a partnership with Maruha Nichiro | Photo by Chris Loew/SeafoodSource
4 Min

A collaboration between Tokyo, Japan-based seafood company Maruha Nichiro and Osaka Shoin Women’s College in Higashiosaka has created unique canned herring and sardine products targeting the convenience market.

The partnership started after Shin-ichi Fukumaru, a sales development manager at Maruha Nichiro, read a newspaper article about a joint project between Professor Shingo Hamada’s food studies class at Osaka Shoin and a local high school, which resulted in the development of innovative herring recipes.

Impressed by what he read, and with Maruha Nichiro planning to release a canned herring product that featured soy sauce in March 2023, Fukumaru wrote to Hamada, proposing a new project.

“The concept for the project was to develop dishes that can be made at home and eaten every day that people can cook without having to make it from scratch,” Fukumaru said.

The collaboration was mutually beneficial, according to Hamada, because his food studies course, which began seven years ago, focuses on the entire food supply chain. The project provided Hamada’s students, one-third of whom, according to Hamada, go on to careers in the food industry, with an opportunity to work hands-on from ideation to final product.

Maruha Nichiro, for its part, has been targeting herring products because the stock has recovered recently, with larger landings leading to a growing market.

In the early 1900s, Japan landed around 1 million metric tons (MT) of herring annually; however, the stock plummeted after the Second World War due to overfishing and changes to the Japanese marine environment.

Fukumaru said that herring stocks have been recovering in recent years, though they are still nowhere near pre-WWII historical amounts. Landings exceeded 5,000 MT in both 2022 and 2023 after falling to as low as 200 to 300 MT per year in the early 2000s. 

Japan’s Central Fisheries Research Institute credits the recovery to better stock management, which includes effective hatchery releases and a switch to larger mesh sizes for nets that allows juveniles to escape.

With increased catch has come a need to expand the market, according to Hamada, who believes the convenience market is an effective way to do so thanks to the low barrier to entry.

“Since herring has not been offered widely in Japan in recent years, many consumers don’t have a clear idea of how to use it in dishes,” Hamada said. “Raw herring isn’t popular because it’s unfamiliar, but canned herring is easy to use; it’s delicious as is, but it can also be used in sandwiches, udon, and other dishes.”

To showcase the collaboration, the Food Study Kitchen of Osaka Shoin Women’s College hosted a media event earlier this year, highlighting innovative culinary uses for canned herring – such as herring in a crispy salad with garlic and potatoes, fried balls of herring mixed with fishcake and chopped lotus root, and Chinese noodles with herring and ginger.

In addition to herring, two canned sardine products were on display from the collaboration: one packed in a plum sauce and the other with lemon juice. 

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500
Editor's Choice