Global seafood consumption has been increasing and demand is expected to continue growing in the future. In order to deliver safe, secure and delicious fish to its customers, the Nissui Group has been focusing on its aquaculture business both in Japan and overseas. Overseas, the Group is engaged in the aquaculture of salmon and trout, while in Japan the Group operates the aquaculture businesses of yellowtail, tuna, coho salmon, mackerel and blowfish, among others.
As a manufacturer of food, the Nissui Group insists on “good-tasting food,” and using this as a starting point, it has been involved in various research and technological development in every stage of the process of farming fish from seedlings, fish feed, cultivation, processing and distribution.
Furthermore, by having staff responsible for the different types of products, such as those intended for volume retailers, ready-to-eat meals and restaurants, provide feedback on customer needs of their respective fields to the relevant divisions, the Group has been able to develop technology that meets these demands.
In collaboration with NEC, which possesses cutting-edge artificial intelligence and Internet of Things technology, Nissui has developed an automated farmed fish measuring solution. Simply by uploading images of the farmed fish as they swim about their tank, the technology is able to calculate the fish’s size and lengths and report that information. In aquaculture, there is a need for such solutions to constantly manage the growth status of the fish. This solution alleviates the risk of stress or disease that comes from people physically handling fish. It also reduces labor and inconvenience, and improves measurement accuracy, thereby boosting productivity. The Nissui Group will continue to deliver safe, secure and delicious farmed fish by expanding the scope of AI and IoT utilization.
Image Showing AI Detection of Yellowtail
In order to use marine resources in a sustainable manner, the Nissui Group works to advance its aquaculture technologies. Within Japan we are opening up new possibilities, from farming yellowtail and coho salmon using our independent technologies; to producing entirely farmed tuna; researching the aquaculture of vannamei (white) shrimps at domestic on-land sites; and creating the technology needed to fully farm common octopuses, an endeavor previously thought too challenging. Nissui is also making progress with the development of aquaculture technology that prevents water pollution and minimizes the effect on marine ecosystems, such as solid feed mix EP pellets that aren’t accidentally dispersed out into sea and the automatic feeding Aqualingual®.
Aqualingual® Feeding System in Otsuchi-cho, Iwate Prefecture
In March 2018, our bluefin tuna was shipped with the Kitsuna Gold Label brand name for the first time.
Thanks to processing near the site where they are landed, we have produced first-rate bluefin tuna with a focus on quality, freshness and taste. Domestically produced, fully farmed bluefin tuna is one of the key elements in the Nissui Aquaculture Business, and our plans to improve the sustainability of marine resource.
One of the factors for high costs in the farming of bluefin tuna is the cost of feed required for the hatched larvae. Drawing on the fruits of the research of the Nissui Oita Marine Biological Technology Center of the Central Research Laboratory, the Nissui Group has succeeded in replacing the commonly-used hatched larvae of other fish such as parrot fish and Japanese whiting (hatched larvae as feed) with formula feed; thus eliminating the need to time the hatching of the feed larvae and to manage its breeding, which, in turn, has contributed to the downsizing of personnel.
The fertilized eggs harvested at Seinan Suisan Co., Ltd.,the Nissui Group company, are hatched and reared at the Oita Marine Biological Technology Center using the above-mentioned proprietary formula feed. When the larvae grow to be 5 to 7 centimeters, they spend the winter in the offshore fish cages for juvenile fish of Seinan Suisan Co., Ltd. and subsequently fattened up until they reach shipment size at the company’s various fish cages. When transporting the tuna from one fish cage to another, the Group’s barges especially designed for bluefin tuna are used.
Bluefin tuna harvested at each site is processed and packed at each nearby processing facility and shipped to customers using refrigerated delivery. By processing the tuna near the harvesting location, the Nissui Group is contributing to the construction of an optimal supply chain that emphasizes quality, freshness and good taste.
Furthermore, the addition of the Group’s unique innovative touches to each process including feeding methods, harvesting and processing, and packaging has enabled us to offer bluefin tuna with higher levels of vitamin E than regular tuna, with nearly 20% more of the umami ingredient, inosin, and with better color.
In fiscal 2019, the Goto farming site of the Nissui Group company, Kaneko Sangyo Co., Ltd. commenced the shipment of fully-farmed bluefin tuna, in addition to the Koshikijima farming site and the Kamiura farming site (Saiki, Oita Prefecture).
The Kitsuna Gold Label
One of the difficulties of handling fresh bluefin tuna is that its freshness, color and gloss quickly deteriorate once it is landed and its product value also deteriorates.
Kaneko Sangyo Co., Ltd. of the Nissui Group is engaged in initiatives for local processing in which newly-landed bluefin tuna is processed and packaged in its fresh state and delivered by refrigerated delivery. Furthermore, by leveraging its proprietary processing technology, it has established an optimal supply chain for processed farmed tuna with emphasis on quality, freshness, taste and convenience.
This processed tuna caters to the needs of customers, who previously were reluctant to handle fresh tuna such as restaurants, hotels and supermarkets lacking the manpower to process the fish or hoping to introduce the products in small lots.
“Tuna Nishiki®,” the processed bluefin tuna, which Kaneko Sangyo Co., Ltd. began to market in May 2018, is made by transporting the bluefin tuna raised at its six farming sites in Nagasaki Prefecture immediately after it is landed under strict temperature control to the processing plant in Karatsu, processing the tuna under continued strict temperature control, and individually packaging the tuna by fillet with special film and shipping. The company has established its own integrated system from bluefin tuna farming, feed production, processing, storage and distribution, which has enabled strict freshness and quality control.
The temperature control technology after landing, in particular, has been developed by the company and a patent is currently pending. By combining this technology with optimal landing and fish refrigeration methods, the company has extended the shelf-life of fresh tuna, which is usually about three days from processing to seven days from the date following the processing date under refrigerated storage and has made Long Life Chilled (LLC) fresh tuna possible. In fiscal 2019, the company marketed 5,000 units out of its total shipment of 29,000 units of farmed tuna as “Tuna Nishiki.”
“Tuna Nishiki®” 1kg
Tuna Nishiki® Label
In 2011, the Nissui Group commenced basic research into the on-land farming of vannamei (white) shrimp in Japan, and from 2016 began studies for its commercialization (feasibility studies).
The “closed biofloc method” was adopted as the farming method at the on-land site. This minimizes the amount of water used and uses aggregates of organic matter (bioflocs) to purify the water, thus reducing the environmental impact compared to conventional farming methods. While commercial use of this method is becoming widespread in Europe and Southeast Asia, this will be the first time it is used in Japan. Previously, most of the shrimp marketed in Japan had been frozen imported shrimp but with this method, the Nissui Group is now able to deliver farmed shrimp, which is fresh and may be consumed raw and which are safe and secure from not having to use drugs.
Partial shipment commenced in 2017 and from September 2018, a limited number of shrimp have been marketed nationwide as “Shirahime Ebi (“Snow White Shrimp”)” for professional use.
The three counterparties of Nissui, Yumigahama Suisan Co., Ltd., of the Nissui Group and Hitachi Zosen Corporation reached an agreement on February 15, 2019 to commence the joint development of a large-scale land-based recirculation aquaculture system for chub mackerel, which will be the first of its kind in Japan. This joint development will combine the knowledge of chub mackerel aquaculture held by Nissui and Yumigahama Suisan with the water treatment technology of Hitachi Zosen, and will be based at the testing facilities, which is scheduled to be built in Yonago City, Tottori. Construction commenced in June 2019 and the facility is expected to be in operation by April 2020. The development period will be until the end of March 2023 and commercialization of the project is scheduled from April of the same year.
Yonago Aquaculture Center, Yumigahama Suisan Co., Ltd. (Overall view)
Given that solids generated within the system such as uneaten feed and fish feces become factors for deteriorating the quality of the rearing waters, they must be quickly expelled from the system. We hope to increase the efficiency of removing the solids by utilizing Hitachi Zosen’s fluid simulation technology (Technology to recreates water flow within the water tanks on the computer).
The ammonia originating from the fish feces and uneaten feed must be quickly decomposed and removed, as they are high in toxins for the farmed fish. We plan to increase efficiency by applying the nitrification treatment system developed by Hitachi Zosen, which has a long track record of biological treatment of industrial effluent utilizing free-floating filtering media, make the nitrification facility more compact, and reduce initial costs.
We will implement energy-saving measures including the development of efficient methods of operating the system and the adoption of operation controls to reduce electricity costs and other running costs.
We will identify the optimal rearing conditions for the farmed fish (water temperature, water quality, water flow, photoperiod, etc.), develop production technology and control technology capable of controlling such conditions artificially and aim for high aquaculture productivity.
Through this joint development, We aim to build a competitive land-based aquaculture system through the packaging of the entire system and industrialize land-based recirculation aquaculture in Japan. Through these efforts, We hope to contribute to the stable supply of sustainable marine products.
In January 2019, the five parties - Nissui, the Nissui Group company, Yumigahama Suisan Co., Ltd., “Shin -Otsuchi Gyogyou Kumiai (Shin-Otsuchi Fisheries Cooperative)” (Otsuchi-cho, Kamihei-gun) (Note), “Otsuchi Fukko-sha Kyodo Kumiai”, and the Japanese Institute of Fisheries Infrastructure and Communities of Tokyo - concluded an agreement to collaborate in carrying out salmon/trout aquaculture tests, from the standpoint of creating new businesses in Otsuchi-cho.
Nissui and Yumigahama Suisan Co., Ltd. will participate in the trial aquaculture to be carried out by “Shin-Otsuchi Gyogyou Kumiai” aiming to commercialize large-scale, sea-surface cultivation of salmon/trout. This trial aquaculture will be conducted mainly by “Shin-Otsuchi Gyogyou Kumiai” and will be a collaboration with Otsuchi-cho, the local business operators, and the comprehensive think tank for the promotion of fishing villages. To this end, we will offer the Nissui Group’s knowledge and knowhow on salmon/tour aquaculture and aim to promote the coastal fishery and the fishing villages of Iwate Prefecture and to create new business opportunities. In addition, Yumigahama Suisan Co., Ltd. will establish a local office in Otsuchi-cho, join “Shin-Otsuchi Gyogyou Kumiai” and participate in the trial aquaculture.
(Note) "Shin-Otsuchi Gyogyou Kumiai (Shin-Otsuchi Fisheries Cooperative) ": Oversees the area comprising Otsuchi Bay in the southern part of Otsuchi-cho and Funakoshi Bay in the northern part. Both areas are excellent fishing grounds characterized by the ria coastline, which is unique to the Sanriku region, where the Black Tide and the Oyashio Current (the Kuril Current) intersect, bringing with them bountiful marine resources. Seaweed such as wakame seaweed and kelp, shellfish such as scallops and oysters, and fish such as salmon, mackerel, and middle-sized Japanese amberjack are caught. Going forward it will work to stabilize fish hauls, expand each business, and engage in initiatives to promote aquaculture.