Japanese food conglomerate Ajinomoto Co. has announced a 6 billion yen (approximately €45 million) expansion of its Kawasaki plant, which will include the construction of a new R&D building.
The expansion will start this month and is intended to accelerate the technological integration of Ajinomoto Co. with its consolidated subsidiaries Ajinomoto Frozen Foods, Knorr Foods, and Ajinomoto AGF, according to the company.
The new plant, including the R&D building, will contain a floor area of 7,400 square metres across four floors, with a seismic base isolation structure.
It is scheduled to be completed in the first half of the 2020 fiscal year. The modification of the existing buildings is scheduled to be finished in the second half of that fiscal year, according to Ajinomoto.
The R&D base will involve a personnel of 500 people across all four companies. It will handle the development and industrialisation of seasonings, frozen foods, processed foods and beverages.
It will also support the implementation of information and communications technology, automation and other cutting-edge production technologies, leading to the growth of the Ajinomoto food product businesses globally, the company said.
One of the key strategies in the company’s medium-term management plan for the fiscal years 2017-19 is restructuring the value chain of its Japanese food product business.
The company hopes to further develop and integrate its ‘deliciousness technologies,’ including enzyme-based texture enhancers, fermentation-derived flavour materials and its high-profile seasonings enhancers umami and kokumi.
The latter two products have been hailed by scientific food journals as the 'fifth and sixth tastes', in addition to sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. This is due to them triggering specific receptors on the tongue that food scientists were previously unaware of.
Ajinomoto said it will develop recipes and process raw material to develop the household-use products of the four companies.
This will roll out initially on a national level and spread globally in the future with the aim of generating approximately 15 billion yen (€113 million) in business profits over the ten years from the fiscal year 2021, the company said.
Changing Consumer Needs
Consumer needs are becoming more diverse in Japan as a result of societal and structural changes, including the ageing population, the increase in single-person households, increased health and environmental awareness, and concerns about food safety and security, according to Ajinomoto.
“In this changing environment, expectations have been increasing for the food industry to provide restaurant and institutional use product and service solutions in addition to products for household use,” the company said.
“These market changes and expectations are undergoing similar trends in other regions around the world as well.”
In September, the company announced it was restructuring its seasonings and processed foods production system.
It originally announced the building of the new plant in October, and construction is due to begin this month, Ajinomoto said.
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Kevin Duggan. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.