Focus - Pioneering the Future of Food: The Wellspring of the Fuji Oil Group
Bringing Out the Potential of Ingredients through Technological Innovation
Our Founding Spirit Created a Technology-Oriented Fuji Oil
In 1950, Fuji Oil was founded with full investment by ITOCHU Corporation. The 67 years since then have been a history of continuous technological innovation.
Our initial focus was on solid fats from tropical regions. At the time, established edible oil manufacturers in Japan dominated the supply of liquid oils from sources such as soybeans and rape seeds, and there was no room in the market for latecomers such as us. Nevertheless, based on our founding belief that "possessing the originality to explore new areas of business rather than following other companies would lead to our continuous development", we were the first in Japan to successfully extract coconut oil using expeller pressing. Fuji Oil took its first step as a unique manufacturer of edible oils and fats.
Unlike liquid oils, solid fats are solid at ambient temperature, but liquefy when heated. Our engineers who took note of this change in properties due to temperature had the idea of using different melting points to separate oils and fats with different physical properties. We then succeeded in establishing a production system using solvent fractionation technology for oils and fats, which is our core technology. Thus, we laid the foundation for highly original raw materials, technologies and products.
This separation technique is closer to the essence of our materials and is a starting point that could be called our "technological philosophy." Using technologies developed from this concept, we not only obtained completely new oil and fat materials, but also created a number of innovative new products. We were first in the world to succeed in commercial production of hard butter similar to cacao butter using sunflowers as a raw material by combining interesterification technology that recombines oils and fats at the molecular level using enzymes and fractionation technology. This sent major shock waves through the chocolate industry. For soybeans, we developed a manufacturing method to separate and extract high-purity soy protein from defatted soybeans using our original technology, and obtained patents for the manufacturing method in 10 countries. We have developed a series of technologies that were the first in Japan or first in the world, such as the 1993 efficient extraction of soluble soy polysaccharides from soybean curd residue using our proprietary high-temperature pressurized extraction method.
Just like our commitment to originality, our ambition to contribute to society by offering healthy and delicious food has remained unchanged since our founding. Since 1950, Fuji Oil has obtained 2,573 patents (as of March 2016; total for Fuji Oil Co., Ltd. and Fuji Oil Holdings). Premium soymilk made with the world’s first ultra soy separation (USS) manufacturing method has a delicious taste and functions that are unattainable with regular soymilk, and it is attracting attention as a groundbreaking new ingredient that expands the potential of soybeans. In addition, our newly developed stabilized DHA and EPA successfully suppress the odor of fish at its source, opening a new door for their use in various food products.
Creating Value for People
The global population is projected to increase to 9.5 billion by 2050, and potential solutions to the urgent issues of resource depletion and food problems are being expedited. In the food industry, in addition to demands for safe, secure and healthy products, such as foods that are additive-free or low in allergens, global attention is focused on ingredients that are environmentally friendly, suitable for the elderly, nutritionally enhanced, or address other concerns. Under these circumstances, management that can adapt to "value" that changes with the times is crucial for Fuji Oil to grow into a truly global leader. Moreover, we recognize that value constantly changes with both time and place, and that responding to change by ascertaining the trends of the times creates value, a process we call "Kachizukuri." Specifically, we will make a major shift in the orientation of our management, away from products toward solutions. In addition, we believe that adopting a strict policy of putting customers first, and finding and providing value that they are not yet even aware of, will lead to contributions to people’s health and to society.
Furthermore, to continue creating the future of food, we established the Fuji Oil Group Management Philosophy to make clear the values and principles to be shared by our employees worldwide.
In the past, we have created new foods through technologies that no one can imitate, ideas that no one else thought of, and proposals that resonate with everyone. As for the Values that support us in this regard (The values that inform our actions), we put "Safety, quality and the environment" first and foremost. We also added "Work for people" and continue to espouse "Challenge and innovation" while remaining mindful of "Speed and timing." We will deliver value to people worldwide with our unique approach, through deliciousness and health. To achieve this, we will generate new value in response to social issues, a process we call "Kotozukuri" (creating movements), in combination with "Monozukuri" (creating products) as our employees join together to take on the challenge of "Kachizukuri" (creating value) that changes with the times.
Operating Profit by Segment
History of Technological Innovation
Start of Japan’s first hard butter production at a solvent fractionation plant
We completed the first solvent fractionation plant for oils and fats in Japan and began producing hard butter (similar to cacao butter) from palm kernel oil.
Start of production of soy protein isolate at the Osaka Plant
As our competitors abandoned advanced research on applications of defatted soybeans, we continued to apply trial and error and succeeded in using isoelectric point precipitation to separate and extract soybean protein while retaining its ability to form a gel. Employing this innovative manufacturing method, for which we obtained patents in 10 countries, we started production of highly pure soy protein isolate at the Osaka Plant.
Establishment of enzymatic interesterification technology
We began full-scale biotechnology research in the 1970s. From our research into lipid production using yeast, we established an enzymatic interesterification technology that recombines oils and fats at the molecular level. In the mid-1980s, we successfully conducted the world’s first commercial production of cocoa butter equivalent (CBE) using this technology.
Development of soluble soy polysaccharide production technology
We took a closer look at the soluble fibers contained in soybean curd residue. As a result of extensive research into their use as a food ingredient, we developed soluble soy polysaccharide production technology using high-temperature pressurized extraction. As a functional food ingredient, this product can be used in various applications, including for stabilizing acidic milk drinks and preventing cooked rice and noodles from becoming sticky.
Development of low-trans fatty acid technology using interesterification
There are strong demands worldwide for reduction of trans fatty acids due to their impact on health. We applied conventional enzymatic interesterification technology to develop a technology for reducing trans fatty acid that realizes ideal functions and stability. We are making a major contribution to people’s health through oil and fat products with low-trans fatty acid content.
Developed USS, the world’s first soy separation and fractionation technology
We developed and obtained a patent for the USS * manufacturing method, which separates soybeans into soymilk cream and low-fat soymilk in a manner similar to the separation method for raw milk. It is attracting attention for breakthrough new ingredients that retain the components and savory taste of soybeans, and has begun to be used in foods in a wide range of cuisine including Japanese and Italian. Based on this technology, we also succeeded in developing a cheese-like ingredient from soybeans, further expanding the potential of soybeans as food ingredients.* USS: Ultra Soy Separation
Development of stabilized DHA and EPA
DHA and EPA are attracting attention for their function in enhancing cognitive ability. We succeeded in developing and commercializing stabilized DHA and EPA with a reduced fishy odor by using a proprietary new technology that disperses slightly soluble antioxidant ingredients in oil. It has received good reviews as a way to ingest DHA and EPA without affecting flavor when added to foods and beverages.
Deliciousness and Health for the World
Overseas Expansion from an Early Stage with a Trading Company Approach
Although Fuji Oil is a manufacturer, it has the DNA of a trading company, and therefore it entered overseas markets from its earliest days. In 1953, when the scars of war were still fresh, we started looking into new raw materials in Southeast Asia, together with the Oils and Fats Section of ITOCHU Corporation. At that time, our focus on palm kernels, which had never been used for oil extraction in Japan, led to the manufacture and sale of hard butter, the starting point of our originality. Japan was entering a period of high economic growth, and many Japanese manufacturers were engaged in overseas production for import and sale back in Japan. Our management at the time believed that true internationalization meant creating markets overseas and establishing production bases there for business development. In the 1970s, we built a series of bases in Malaysia and the Philippines. However, we were forced to withdraw temporarily due to differences of opinion with the national governments and local partners. Nevertheless, we focused on developing overseas markets, driven by our conviction that expansion into local markets is the only way to grow as a global company. As a pioneer in the era, we developed into a corporate group with an overseas network that spans from raw material procurement to production and sales in the Asian region.
Fuji Oil’s overseas development has been characterized by local production and local consumption around the world, with expansion into Southeast Asia, the United States, Europe and China since the 1980s. Currently, 27 companies, including regional headquarters, in 10 countries are engaged in local production and sales activities. Our strengths overseas include hard butters for chocolate, oils and fats for infant powdered formula, functional oils and fats, industrial use chocolate, and confectionery and baking ingredients such as vegetable whipping cream. In the United States, we expect growth in soybean-related products in addition to oils and fats and chocolate due to increased health consciousness, with regulations on the intake of trans fatty acids out of concerns over their impact on health, and the rise of flexitarians (people whose diets are oriented toward vegetables but who occasionally eat meat or fish). In China, the Westernization of diets is accelerating, with notable growth in the confectionery and bakery market.
Fuji Oil wants to help resolve food issues on a global scale and to be the best partner for creating new food value with its customers. We established FUJISUNNY PLAZA as a base for creating new products and new menus through communication with customers. To address the diverse needs of each country or region, there are eight plazas, located in Japan, China and elsewhere in Asia. In addition, we opened the Asia R&D Center in Singapore in 2015 as our research base in Asia. We are conducting unique research and development that applies the wide range of knowledge we have accumulated to the distinctive needs of the Asian market. For sustainable growth, we opened the Fuji Science & Innovation Center in 2016 as the headquarters of the Group’s global research and technology development network. We are accelerating the creation of the future of food globally.
Shift to a Holding Company Structure to Accelerate Global Management
We have set forth "a global company for supporting the health of people" as "How we want to be in 2030." To achieve this, we consider it important to expand our global management structure and attain a competitive advantage globally as "How we should be in 2020." Therefore, in October 2015 we shifted to a pure holding company system, and established regional headquarters in Asia, China and the Americas and a representative company in Europe to manage group companies in each area. We aim to create products and services rooted in local markets by ascertaining our customers’ issues from the perspectives of deliciousness and health, and also minimize exchange rate risk by conducting development, production and sales all within each region.
In addition, to develop businesses that take advantage of distinctive regional characteristics, we are strongly promoting delegation of authority to each area while focusing on strengthening our governance structure, promoting diversity and cultivating global human resources. To increase management speed, we are upgrading our global management structure and reinforcing our management foundation. Specifically, we are laying the foundation for the adoption of global standards, including alignment of fiscal periods, global unification of core systems and the consequent visualization of management information. We will also steadily respond to the demands of growth markets by displaying group synergies in areas such as global enhancement of the supply chain for oils and fats and chocolate.
Good health is a value that all people of the world share. For Fuji Oil, which has a vision of contributing to the happiness and well-being of the people by offering delicious and healthy food, contributing to health is an important objective that must be met. Due to the aging population and concerns about food safety and security, demand from the field of medical foods, including health foods and liquid diets, is also rising globally. Fuji Oil will contribute to delicious and healthy food with a proactive global rollout of its soy protein business and its functional high-value-added products business, including stabilized DHA and EPA, and polysaccharides.
Percentage of Operating Profit from Overseas Business
History of Opening Markets Overseas
Establishment of Fuji Oil (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.
Established as a core base for our overseas strategy. Manufactures specialty fats, mainly hard butters for chocolate. Began actively exporting to regions other than Japan soon after the start of operation, with exports to more than 50 countries.
Establishment of Fuji Vegetable Oil, Inc. in the United States
Established with a view toward full-scale business development in the United States, the world’s largest consumer market. A plant in Georgia that produces specialty fats has also been constructed and is operating. Has earned a good reputation among major multinational food companies for its technical and proposal capabilities.
Establishment of Vamo-Fuji Specialties N.V. in Belgium (currently Fuji Oil Europe)
Established as a joint venture with Belgium’s long-established oils and fats manufacturer Vandemoortele N.V. as part of our plans to enter Europe. Expanding sales to the United Kingdom, Western and Eastern Europe and Russia, driven by technological support from applications and ideas developed in the Japanese market.
Establishment of Jilin Fuji Protein Co., Ltd. in Jilin Province, China
Since the 1980s, Fuji Oil has been providing technical guidance in Jilin Province in anticipation of the prospects and growth potential of the Chinese market. Established the company amid expanding consumption of ham and sausage. Began full-scale production and sales of soy protein isolate as a raw material.
Establishment of Asia R&D Center and Shift to a Holding Company Structure under a Pure Holding Company System
Opened our first overseas research and development facility in Singapore to consolidate our development functions in Asia and conduct research and development tailored to Asian needs. Also in 2015, we shifted to a holding company structure under a pure holding company system to conduct global management.
Addition to the Group of Harald Indústria e Comércio de Alimentos S.A., Brazil’s Largest Manufacturer of Industrial Use Chocolate
Harald is a widely recognized and trusted company in Brazil with approximately 70,000 Brazilian bakeries as customers and a large share of domestic sales. We will build and develop our strategy for Central and South America here, leveraging the strength of the company’s brands and sales network.
Establishment of Fuji Science & Innovation Center
Brings together knowledge and technology from inside and outside the Group as the research and development headquarters of the Fuji Oil Group. With the Asia R&D Center and Tsukuba R&D Center, it completes the tripolar global research and development system we have built to create food ingredients with value.