Japan’s Mitsubishi Corporation acquires majority stake in Kewpie’s Gourmet Delica

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

Mitsubishi Corporation will purchase an 80% stake in Gourmet Delica Co. Ltd. from current owner Kewpie Corporation. ©GourmetDelica
Mitsubishi Corporation will purchase an 80% stake in Gourmet Delica Co. Ltd. from current owner Kewpie Corporation. ©GourmetDelica

Related tags Packaged Food bento Japan Lawson Kewpie Mitsubishi Corporation

Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) will purchase an 80% stake in Gourmet Delica Co. Ltd. from current owner Kewpie Corporation.

Keisuke Kawasaki of MC Living Essentials' PR team told FoodNavigator-Asia​ this is the first time the firm is investing in the manufacturing of pre-cooked foods.

Gourmet Delica manufactures pre-cooked rice and other delicatessen for use in lunch boxes (packaged food), most of which is sold to Lawson Inc., the operator of Japan’s third-largest chain of convenience stores and an MC Group company.

According to the firm, the proportion of Gourmet Delica’s operations being acquired essentially comprises the segments of the business that cover its transactions with Lawson, and will be spun off to form a new entity by way of a company split.

The new, acquired, Gourmet Delica will be incorporated on October 1. From that day on, the remaining segments of the previous Gourmet Delica’s business, including non-Lawson related frozen confectionery, will continue to operate with its name changed to Soka Delica Co. Ltd.

Business background

Gourmet Delica was established by Kewpie in 1990. It is one of Japan’s premier manufacturers of pre-cooked foods, and has been a top supplier to Lawson for nearly 30 years.

MC stated that Gourmet Delica had excellent production technology and R&D capacity, especially in relation to steamed rice products used in lunch boxes.

Kewpie, meanwhile, is famous for its sweet mayonnaise popular in Japan as well as overseas markets such as in the US and in China. The firm’s listed business segments are condiment products, egg products, delicatessen products, processed foods, fine chemical products, distribution system, and common business operations.

Future development

While this acquisition would bring the new Gourmet Delica under the umbrella of the MC Group, Kewpie will retain a 20% share of the new Gourmet Delica and will continue working closely with MC to further develop the company, including in working together on menu development.

The overall arrangement is expected to contribute to helping Lawson reach its target of 600,000 yen (approximately US$5,400) in average daily sales per store in Japan by 2021.

MC’s acquisition of Gourmet Delica will allow it to become more directly involved in different sections of its food businesses supply chain, and further strengthen the MC Group’s integrated supply chain.

For instance, this ranges from the procurement of raw materials to the manufacturing of lunch boxes through operations at Gourmet Delica as well as aspects executed by other MC Group companies such as logistics handled by Mitsubishi Shokuhin and retail through Lawson.

This move will ultimately enable the delivery of further value-added products and help to raise customer satisfaction at Lawson.

“We think that it is possible for us (MC), Gourmet Delica and Lawson to unite and to efficiently promote strengthening of the business,” ​added Kawasaki.

“In other words, from the customer's point of view, we will build a manufacturing system to improve the value of individual products. Specifically, although not only efforts to increase productivity and reduce manufacturing costs through automation of production lines, etc., we will invest in improving the quality of raw materials and enhancing the cooking and processing capacity.”

A few months ago, MC purchased a minority stake in UAE-based halal frozen meat manufacturer Al Islami Foods​. The investment was intended to enable MC to capitalise on distribution in key international markets, especially in Asia, while Al Islami said it would help its business drive international expansion by increasing production in double-digits over the next five years.

The Al Islami Foods Group has the second-largest market share in frozen meat products in the UAE and supplies more than 100 frozen products catering to various segments.

Kawasaki told us MC is now working with Al Islami on new business development and other aspects.

MC operates businesses across various segments in the food and beverage industry, as well as in many other industries.

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