Japanese Producers Expand Into U.S. Market

BOSTON — As part of an initiative to cultivate an appreciation for the diversity and excellent quality of Japanese seafood within the US market, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF) sponsored its third annual Japan Pavilion (http://www.japan-seafood.net/english/) at this years International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS), North Americas largest seafood trade event, which was held from March 14-16, 2010 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

Surrounded by a remarkably diverse and abundant marine ecosystem, Japan is known as one of the worlds foremost producers of quality seafood products. While the Japanese for centuries have practiced a variety of rich culinary traditions that employ indigenous seafood ingredients, in recent years Japanese seafood producers have turned towards expanding their exports of these ingredients to the United States. According to official statistics, in 2009, exports of seafood represented 38.6% of Japans overall agricultural and seafood exports, with the U.S. as Japans second largest seafood export market. The U.S. market has welcomed this influx of Japanese seafood, particularly given the booming popularity of dishes such as sushi and sashimi. In recent years, however, American consumers have also become increasingly excited about lesser-known Japanese ingredients.

Drawing on this momentum and the tremendous popularity of past exhibits, this years pavilion showcased products from ten of Japans leading seafood producers, representing a diverse offering of seafood products imported from local regions across the country. The pavilion featured cooking demonstrations and samplings of each of the participating exhibitors products, and representatives from each company were in attendance to introduce their seafood ingredients to visitors to the pavilion. Showcased products included:

Yellowtail Hyoshoku Co., Ltd. exhibited its skillfully raised yellowtail. Hyoshoku farms its yellowtail in an expansive “hirobiro ikesu” enclosure, reducing the density of the fish to one-third that of standard aqua farms with the goal of replicating the yellowtails natural environment.

Sashimi Shrimp Kanedai Co. Ltd. exhibited a selection of peeled sashimi shrimp, which are widely popular in major supermarkets and restaurants throughout Japan. It also displayed a selection of crab and saury products locally farmed in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture.

Deep-fried Surimi Seafood with Tofu (Uogashiage) Kibun Foods Inc. exhibited a variety of surimi-based products, including uogashiage (deep-fried surimi with tofu), oden (surimi soup) and datemaki (baked surimi with eggs).

Chopped Wasabi Kinjirushi Sales Co., Ltd. exhibited a range of wasabi products, including chopped and grated wasabi, produced using low temperature processing techniques.

Steamed Oysters Kunihiro Inc., Japans largest producer of oysters, exhibited a selection of its frozen oysters that can be easily employed by chefs in a variety of applications, including sauting, deep frying and for use as-is.

Kaisen Edamame Salad Marine Foods Corporation exhibited the companys carefully prepared seaweed, wasabi and squid products, which are frequently utilized in both Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Wasabi Flavored Seaweed Marutoku Nori Co. Ltd., which has been harvesting Japanese seaweed (nori) in Hiroshima for over 60 years, exhibited a selection of seaweed products, including wasabi flavored seaweed and sonomanma yakinori (toasted seaweed flakes).

Amberjack Morimatsu Suisan Reito Co., Ltd. exhibited a selection of its masterfully prepared and packaged amberjack and yellowtail. The company is known throughout Japan for utilizing the ikijime vacuum-packing method that preserves the flavor of the fish and ensures its freshness.

Snow Leg Queen Sugiyo Co., Ltd. exhibited its Snow Leg Queen replica crab product, which is almost identical to real snow crab in appearance, flavor and texture. Sugiyo was one of the first companies to introduce replica crab to the North American market.

Fermented Squid with Salted Fish Innards (Ika-shiokara) Yamayo Co., Ltd. one of Japans most successful deep-sea fisheries based in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, exhibited its ika-shiokara (fermented squid with salted fish innards) shime-saba (marinated Japanese mackerel), shime-sanma (marinated Pacific saury) and tsuruarame konbu zuke (seasoned konbu seaweed).

A tasting reception was also held in conjunction with the Japan Pavilion at the nearby Westin Waterfront Hotel on March 14. After opening remarks from Masaru Tsuji, Consul General of the Consulate-General of Japan in Boston, Emmy award-winning producer Dave Eckert, who explored Japanese yellowtail in an episode of “Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert” that aired on the cable network Wealth TV last December, spoke about his experience in Ehime Prefecture, Japan.

Seafood producers in Japan display such passion and pride in everything they do, explained Mr. Eckert. As a result, their products exhibit an extremely high level of consistency and quality. Seafood is deeply embedded in Japanese culture, and the depth and breadth of seafood products consumed in the country on a daily basis is remarkable.

The reception also gave buyers, distributors and journalists an additional chance to sample the exhibitors ingredients as well as meet with exhibitors to discuss business opportunities in the US market.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, whose mission includes the promotion of agricultural, seafood, and other food exports, is sponsoring special events around the world that showcase the rich variety and high quality of Japans food products.

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan