Case Studies of Business Recovery in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, 2019-2020

the presidents themselves from the partici-pating companies staffed the store and engaged with customers.Gift sets combining the 10 companies’ products were also made available. Instead of regular gifts made up entirely of prod-ucts from a single company, gifts with products from various companies are another unique quality of Ishinomaki Umaimono. Much to their delight, custom-ers are also able to freely combine the contents of the sets in the store.This is also where a hit product Ishino-maki Kinka Chazuke (tea poured over rice) that would spread the Ishinomaki Umaimono name around Japan was created. This product combined the specialties and expertise of the 10 companies in their first offering as a unified brand. The lineup comprises nine varieties in all, conger eel, mackerel, saury, silver salmon, salted cod roe, spicy cod roe, oyster, sea squirt and chicken neck meat, and is made up of wakame and nori seaweed produced in the Sanriku region in a flavorful bonito flake broth and large helpings of the seafood or meat variety included in a retort pack. When it was picked up by the media the orders came flying in and it was even difficult to keep up with production. Accord-ing to Hiratsuka Ryuichiro, the Representa-tive Director of Yamatoku Hiratsuka Suisan Co., Ltd., “When we were considering who would buy the product at the price of 600 yen a meal, someone offered the view that it would probably be the kind of person who flies business class. When we sold the idea to JAL, it was actually adopted in business class on the airline.”A virtual joint plant created based on the unique conditions and bonds of IshinomakiCompanies in the same industry joined forces to launch Ishinomaki Umaimono, and created a hit product under a unified brand, plus steadily expanded their sales channels. While it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see similar initiatives at other port towns, Hiratsuka’s analysis suggests that it was something Ishinomaki was uniquely equipped to accomplish.“For example, in the cities of Kesennuma and Shiogama in Miyagi Prefecture and Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture, there is a main variety of fish that is clearly dominant in each, so there are many companies competing with one another. However, if you asked me what the main variety of fish caught in Ishinomaki is, the answer would change depending on the time. This is a location without a major type of fish, so there is also not a complete overlap in the businesses of the eight marine product companies that have come together. That might be a factor in our success.” Although Ishinomaki Umaimono does not have a production plant of its own, the participating companies cooperate and share with one another on the physical side as well as operations. Hiratsuka refers to this current system of developing and manufacturing products as a “virtual joint plant.” Despite being in different type of business, the participating companies share their trade secrets with one another by showing the insides of their production plants, revealing the ingredients they use and disclosing their particular expertise. Hiratsuka explained how that was possible through the lens of his own experience.“After the disaster struck, we spent two years with the help of outside plants to verify if we could establish a fabless business, but no matter how much we revealed about the ingredients and manufacturing methods and even when the same machinery was used, the flavor wasn’t the same. What we realized is that things that can be easily replicated once disclosed can’t be called a trade secret. There are more distinct, essential qualities inside the company that simply can’t be copied. That’s why we don’t think there is any problem disclosing the FablessThis is a system where a manufacturer lacks their own production plant. One of its advantages is that by entrusting manufacturing to an outside party, a company can respond to market changes more easily and without bearing costs such as initial investment and investment in equipment.Location without a major type of fishLocated near the fishing grounds off the coast of Kinkasan Island, Ishinomaki has become a hub of the coastal, offshore and pelagic fishing industries. It also offers excellent aquaculture areas, allowing many types of fish to be caught all the year round. In fact, the number of varieties is greater than 200.MIYAGI123E12

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