Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 350, November 1998

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American Companies in Japan


The Tokyo District Court has given CARGILL INC.'s subsidiary the go-ahead to help restructure TOSHOKU LTD., a midsized trader of agricultural commodities that declared bankruptcy in December 1997. According to current planning, the world's largest grain trader will make Toshoku a wholly owned subsidiary within 18 months. That move will give Cargill what it believes it needs to finally succeed in Japan: a strong, on-the-ground distribution network. The Minneapolis-based company has the infrastructure in place to move food and feed from production centers through Japan's ports, but it has been stymied in getting products from there into wholesale or retail channels. Coming to Toshoku's rescue makes Cargill the first foreign company to help a Japanese business emerge from bankruptcy under the country's Corporate Rehabilitation Law.

Twenty-eight STARBUCKS COFFEE CO. locations now are in operation in Japan. The newest Starbucks is at the Hankyu Entertainment Park in Osaka. The Seattle company opened its first local coffee shop in August 1996.

Tonalin CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) — a dietary supplement derived from sunflower oil that manufacturer PHARMANUTRIENTS INC. of Lake Bluff, Illinois says might play a role in reducing body fat and increasing muscle tone — is being distributed exclusively by the subsidiary of MAYPRO INDUSTRIES, INC. Earlier this year, this Purchase, New York wholesaler of dietary supplements successfully test-marketed about 33 tons of Tonalin to more than 10 Japanese companies. It is projecting Tonalin sales in 1999 at 110 tons.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.

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