Vietnam's reprocessing share on the rise

Published on
May 15, 2009

Sojitz is among the Japanese companies that is reprocessing more seafood in Vietnam. Its JALUX subsidiary imports farmed rainbow trout from Norway and reprocesses the fish in Vietnam to reduce labor costs.

Ras Super Fries Ltd., a Japanese foodservice supplier of gourmet foods, displayed two JALUX rainbow trout products at Japan's FOODEX 2009.

For Salmon-Trout Tataki, the surfaces of a two-piece side of trout-salmon, or rainbow trout, are seared, while the inside remains uncooked. For Fish Rolls, the red color of the trout-salmon contrasts with the white of the Vietnamese pangasius, in which it is wrapped.

JALUX was introduced by its distributor, DKSH Japan K.K., to Ras Super Fries. Based on DKSH's requirements, JALUX hired a Vietnamese processor to make the products, which are distributed only to Ras Super Fries through DKSH.

Hiroshi Masumo, public relations and advertising manager for JALUX, said that seafood reprocessing is shifting from China to Vietnam because of the increase in labor costs in China and China's poor food-safety image.

"We think that Vietnam's share will increase more in the near future," he said. "On the other hand, we need to worry about the increase of the labor cost there."

Until the first half of last year, product prices were on the rise because crude oil and raw material prices were increasing. But Masumo said prices are stable now, because of the yen has strengthen since the global recession hit last year.

"In physical processing facilities, China still has a superior position to Vietnam. But we think that the risk of China is high compared to Vietnam in terms of consumer anxiety, like the existence of the 'China Free' movement," said Masumo.

Some Japanese restaurants advertise that they serve no foods of Chinese origin, following poisoning incidents and the use of banned substances in Chinese imports.

JALUX, a former Japan Airlines subsidiary, became a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sojitz in March 2007. The firm produces mainly fish toppings for sushi. Tokyo-based DKSH Japan K.K. changed its name from Nihon SiberHegner K.K. in March 2009.

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Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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