Japan Focus: Mail order crisis, Kirin and 'nuclear food' in the spotlight

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Kefir’s sluggish business was unable to keep up with the payment to the investors. ©GettyImages
Kefir’s sluggish business was unable to keep up with the payment to the investors. ©GettyImages
In the first of our monthly reviews of the latest food and beverage developments in Japan, we look at the latest business, regulatory and innovation news.

Japanese mail order food seller goes under leaving 33,000 investors out of pocket

Japanese mail order food seller Kefir Inc has announced bankruptcy​, after accumulating debts of US$949 million (105.3 billion yen).

Kefir and three of its affiliated companies have filed a bankruptcy application to the Tokyo district court early this month. Its affiliated companies were in the business of power supply and hot spring spa services. 

Its system of seeking investments from the public to expand its business with the promise of guaranteed returns, also known as the ownership programme, was reportedly the main cause of its downfall.

An individual who invests in Kefir’s food selling business will receive a 10% interest when the contract matures in half a year’s time.

However, Kefir’s sluggish business was unable to keep up with the payment to the investors.  A system glitch had also led to payment delays since November last year.


Healthier wine? Three times more resveratrol in Mercian's new Bon Rouge grape wine

The winery arm of Kirin — Mercian Corporation — has launched a new version of its Bon Rouge grape wine​, with three times more resveratrol.

Resveratrol is present in grapes skins, some studies have shown​ that it produces antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

The new product, known as “Bon Rouge Premium PET Bottle Red” that came with an alcohol level of 11%, was launched on a limited quantity basis on August 28.

Every 100ml of the wine contains 1.2 mg of resveratrol.

'Nuclear food referendum': Taiwan's softening of Fukushima ban under threat amid ballot calls

Japan's hopes that the Taiwan government will lift the current ban on foods from Fukushima​ and surrounding areas has hit another hurdle after Kuomintang, the largest opposition party in Taiwan, submitted a referendum request on what has been dubbed 'anti-nuclear food'.

So far, this ‘anti-nuclear food’ referendum suggestion has not been officially accepted by the Taiwanese government. However, the party claims to have successfully collected over 470,000 signatures in support of it.

As only 280,000 signatures are required to legally hold a referendum, this places substantial pressure on the government. If the turnout reaches the required 25%, its results will be considered legal.

The Taiwan government has shown a recent softening in stance​ to the Japan food ban.


Beating the market rate: DuPont seeks to accelerate sales growth in Japan with new innovation centre

DuPont aims to drive sales growth that is four to five times higher than the market rate for its Japan’s health and nutrition business.

In an interview with FoodNavigator-Asia and NutraIngredients-Asia, Kobus De Klerk, global innovation leader (sales application food ingredients) of DuPont Nutrition & Health and Dr Li YongJing, regional president (APAC) of DuPont Nutrition & Health, revealed DuPont’s aspiration for its newly opened innovation centre in Japan.   

Located in the Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo, it is hoped that the 700m2​ innovation centre will boost sales growth by providing an array of customised food and nutrition solutions.

This is also the newest addition to DuPont’s growing list of innovation centres and DuPont’s first centre in Japan. The firm is currently running more than 30 innovation centres globally.


Japan’s food exports higher than last year’s, with Hong Kong the greatest importer

Japan’s export of agriculture, forestry and fishery products has reached 435.9 billion yen (about US$3.9 billion) for the first six months of the year, a 15.2% increase as compared to the same period last year.

The figures released by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries this month showed that the country’s food export is on its recovery following the Fukushima nuclear disaster seven years ago.

Food wise, beef exports grew the most, with export value rising by 37.4% to reach 10.8 billion yen. In terms of fruit exports, apple was the most popular, with export value rising by 45.8% to reach 5.9 billion yen. 

Exports of processed food such as instant noodles also increased by 10.8% to reach 2.9 billion yen.

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