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No. 359, August 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

The two biggest manufacturers of instant noodles and instant noodle soups in the United States — NISSIN FOOD PRODUCTS CO., LTD. and TOYO SUISAN KAISHA, LTD. — reportedly have each earmarked $8.3 million for their production ventures. Nissin Food, which has produced these products here for more than a quarter-century, expects the extra investment to make its Lancaster, Pennsylvania plant more efficient. The company also is negotiating with several supermarket chains to supply instant noodles and/or instant noodle soups under their private brands. This output could come from the Pennsylvania factory or the Nissin Food plant in Gardena, California. For its part, Toyo Suisan plans to increase instant noodle capacity at its MARUCHAN, INC. subsidiary in Irvine, California. The expansion, scheduled for completion this fall, will boost annual capacity by about 15 percent to 1.5 billion packages. The Maruchan plant has been in business since 1977.

MITSUKAN GROUP CORP. (formerly Nakano Vinegar Co., Ltd.) hopes to capitalize on the popularity of Japanese foods both to expand U.S. sales of Japanese-style seasonings and to increase awareness of the Mitsukan brand name. Through its NAKANO FOODS, INC. marketing unit in Arlington Heights, Illinois, the company already sells such products as rice vinegar from its Rancho Cucamonga, California plant. Mitsukan plans to expand the range of seasoned vinegars available in the United States as well as introduce soup bases. Nakano Foods is projecting a 5 percent increase in business in FY 1999 to $65 million on the basis of these moves. Mitsukan's Traverse City, Michigan INDIAN SUMMER, INC. subsidiary is a big supplier of traditional vinegar as well as apple cider.

A wider variety of organic products will be available in Japan as a result of a contract between NICHIRO CORP. and CASCADIAN FARM. Starting this fall, the processed foods manufacturer will import corn and other organic frozen vegetables from the Sedro-Woolley, Washington company, a major grower, producer and distributor of organic products. Nichiro is looking for sales of $2.1 million in the first year of the tie- up. In time, it could source more products from Cascadian Farm, which makes more than 150 organic food items, including frozen desserts, vegetarian meals and entrees, and frozen fruit and juices.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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