News Release

2017.1.4New Year's Message

Happy New Year, everyone! We are counting on your support again this year.
Below is the text of the New Year’s address. by Hiroshi Shimizu, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Hiroshi Shimizu, President and CEO

Happy New Year!
Last year saw major events including the change of administration in Taiwan, the US presidential election, the resignation of the prime minister in Italy, and the UK’s exit from the European Union. The world seems to have entered an “age of surprise” characterized by political and economic changes that are both large in scale and run counter to expectations.

We in the Fuji Oil Group, too, must not only be on guard for surprising major developments and manage the related risks but also prepare for momentous change by exercising our imagination on the assumption that anything can happen. Such preparation requires two things. One is to refine on-site capabilities to enable instantaneous response. The other is to foresee situations and build a corporate structure that will stay completely unaffected by such change. The former will test on-site powers of judgment, because past precedents may not apply in some cases. I am always saying that we have to view things with a sense of history, and there is nothing particularly difficult about having a historical perspective. I would like to ask our personnel to begin by recalling the history of our own progress and viewing it in light of the changes in society as a whole and our company. Now more than ever before, there is a need for powers of observation to read the times, which are regarded as a period of changing paradigms. The corporate structure I mentioned as the second requirement means that we must change for our company to survive. It has been a little over a year since we made the transition to a holding company structure. We must ask ourselves how much progress has been made in reform for adaption to the changes in society so far. In the first half of fiscal 2016, the Fuji Oil Group posted record-high levels of sales and profit. Our performance for the full fiscal year will probably be good as well. But is this really a measure of our actual ability? Chocolate and hard butters for chocolate constitute the core competence of our Group, and we managed to reap profits by intense concentration in this area. In this sense, while our actual ability is indeed getting stronger, the fact is that a major reason is the benefit received from the business environment. Complacency breeds conceit and over-confidence.

I began by remarking how last year was one of great change that shook the world. We must likewise be aware of the great changes among our customers themselves, who are also the sources of our corporate value. In Japan and other developed countries, it is said that customers do not know what they want in the current age. Therefore, it is important to find the very problems that customers should resolve. The Japan of the past had clear needs (wants), a continually growing population, and continually expanding markets. In this situation, businesses could operate by making and selling things that matched this environment, and it was efficient to concentrate on technology management. But today, after the postwar phase of rapid economic growth and the ensuing economic crisis, inflation and bursting of the bubble factor, and lost 25 years, people are no longer satisfied with “things” alone. Right from the start, Fuji Oil has sold products endowed with added value, but the nature of this added value is similarly changing with the times. People are motivated to make purchases not merely by the products themselves but by the time and space providing the products. What is the value that resolves customer problems? We must depart from reliance on the business models and cases of success in the past. Last year, we experienced a case of reverse innovation when a product developed for other countries won great popularity in them and was introduced into Japan. Similarly, the parties showing an interest in plant ingredients that are alterative to meat ones are mainly businesses in Silicon Valley in the United States rather than the food industry. As these examples indicate, paradigms are changing dramatically.

Moreover, 2017 is anticipated to bring further changes in the business environment. I would like to ask all members of the Fuji Oil Group to join in a concerted effort to move forward together with a sense of history.

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