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No. 360, September 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

Long ago, HONDA TRADING CORP. developed a knack for discovering creative niche businesses. Its latest endeavor extends that tradition. Starting with this fall's harvest, the company will sort and bag soybeans certified as not genetically modified for export to makers of tofu and other soybean-based products in Japan. Honda Trading will build a $5.3 million processing facility on land adjacent to the HONDA OF AMERICA MANUFACTURING, INC. factory in Marysville, Ohio. The plant will be able to handle 22,000 tons of soybeans per season grown under contract by Ohio farmers. GENETIC ID INC. of Fairfield, Iowa will certify that the facility ships soybeans that are not bioengineered. Honda Trading has exported soybeans to Japan since 1988, using automotive parts containers that otherwise would go back across the Pacific empty. Its new business reflects the pending decision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to require labeling of most soybean-based products made from genetically modified beans and the resulting upsurge in demand from processors for GM-free soybeans.

The number-three Pepsi bottling company in the United States just got bigger. Recently formed Raleigh, North Carolina-based PEPSI BOTTLING VENTURES LLC, an indirect joint venture of SUNTORY LTD. (65 percent) and PEPSICO, INC. (35 percent) (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 6), bought the Pepsi franchise in Goldsboro, North Carolina for a reported $20 million or so. PVC, which employs some 1,800 people, operates 17 Pepsi facilities in North Carolina and New York. In time, it hopes to buy the six other Pepsi bottlers in North Carolina.

SAPPORO BREWERIES LTD. sold ST. CLEMENT VINEYARDS, located in St. Helena in California's Napa Valley, and the winery's Abbott's Vineyard in Carneros to fellow premium wine maker BERINGER WINE ESTATES HOLDING INC. The Japanese brewer had bought the winery and the vineyard in 1987. It will continue to market St. Clement wine in Japan, where about 2,000 of the 20,000 cases that the winery produces each year are sold. Beringer also owns the CHATEAU ST. JEAN winery, which SUNTORY LTD. bought in 1984 and sold in the spring of 1996.

An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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