Partnership with Communities
Relevance to our business
The Fuji Oil Group has key operating sites in 14 countries (as of July 2023). Since food culture varies from region to region, our activities as a food ingredient manufacturer, including plant operations and product sales, require cultivating close relationships with local people. Our business success relies on a partnership with these communities. To this end, we carry out local-based development initiatives that are in line with the social needs of the region. The work we do in community development also enables employees to find greater satisfaction in their work and raises their awareness of sustainability.
We recognize companies as citizens and, as such, aim to contribute to the development of local communities through dialogue and community service. A principle of our business is to “engage in corporate activities rooted in our communities and actively contribute to society,” as expressed in the Fuji Oil Group Management Philosophy.* One way we contribute to local communities is by providing food education, which draws on our business expertise.
Each company in the Fuji Oil Group carries out community development activities specific to the country and region in which they operate. Group-wide and interregional activities are overseen by the ESG Division Officer, while initiatives are led by the ESG Division’s Sustainability Development Group at Fuji Oil Holdings Inc.
Food education using our main raw materials (soybeans, palm oil and cocoa)
Since FY2014, Fuji Oil Co., Ltd. has been conducting a food education project in Japan in cooperation with the nonprofit Houkago NPO AFTER-SCHOOL. The objective is to get children to become curious about human and planetary health by teaching them about global food issues and the importance of food.
In FY2022, we held three programs that can be conducted both in-person and online, two on soybeans (“The Global Environment and Our Food” and “Food Education Bingo”) and one on palm oil (“Food Detectives, Discover the Secrets of Food!”). We taught a combined 32 classes, in-person and online, on the power of soy and palm oil to 857 students at 21 elementary schools. A total of 5,149 children have participated in the food education project since it began.
Aside from the food education project, we also started holding food education events on cocoa using a video. The video contains information linked to our program Sustainable Origin,* and was designed to teach children about the chocolate manufacturing process, the issues at cocoa producing regions, and our efforts to address these issues, together with a friendly mascot called Prince Cocoa.
In FY2022, we also held food education events for students and their parents. More than 250 people across 9 locations explored the topic of global sustainability through familiar foods, using ingredients used by the Fuji Oil Group as subject matter.
The Global Environment and Our Food, food education lecture on soybeans
Prince Cocoa, mascot for the food education program on cocoa
Comments from participants:
- I wonder what soy meat and soy cream taste like! I'd love to try it someday. (3rd grader)
- With the use of soy meat and other foods, I hope that the Earth's energy will be protected so that people can see the beauty of nature 10 or even 100 years from now. (6th grader)
- I think they learned about familiar things that were not taught at school, made new discoveries, and developed new interests. Environmental issues must be considered on a global scale. I think this gave students the opportunity to think about things that were familiar to them since elementary school. (Teacher at school venue)
- I enjoyed learning about chocolate and the SDGs. I wish that the children at chocolate plantations will be able to study. (6th grader)
- I've been using palm oil and canola oil at my part-time job. All this time, I've taken it for granted. After learning that forests are being cut down to produce oil, and about climate change and other environmental problems, I want to use them more carefully in the future. (University student)
- Learning how food can serve society made my expectations and interest in food companies grow even more. (University student)
Support for SDGs for School
SDGs for School* is a program run by non-profit Think the Earth to spread knowledge of the SDGs among junior and senior high school students and encourage learning and action for creating a more sustainable society. In 2021, the program was officially designated by the Japan Ministry of the Environment as an initiative that supports environmental education through conservation and partnership efforts. The Fuji Oil Group has sponsored this program since 2018. Continuing from FY2021, in FY2022 the Fuji Oil Group donated chocolate (two types: with cocoa butter and with vegetable oil) to four high schools in Japan to use as aids for teaching about environmental problems through familiar foods. A combined 750 students learned about climate change and the importance of forest conservation.
Hannan Forest Project
Fuji Oil Co., Ltd. launched the Hannan Forest Project in 2010 to regenerate the secondary forest in Izumisano City, Osaka Prefecture, where its head office is located. Since then, project activities have been further developed. From March 2018, Fuji Oil Co., Ltd. employees have volunteered their time and labor to support park development at Izumisano Kyuryo Ryokuchi in Osaka prefecture, Japan. Local volunteers, the Osaka Prefectural Government, and companies come together once a month to manage the forest and bamboo groves in a designated area of the secondary forest.
In FY2022, the volunteering events were held four times (65 participants in total) because of unseasonable weather and voluntary restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the volunteers continued to thin the bamboo groves, which has produced the following outcomes:
- Opened views along the trail previously obscured by bamboo, such as flowering cherry trees, Kansai International Airport floating in Osaka Bay, and Awaji Island in the distance.
- As sunlight shine through the canopy, the forest starts to regenerate. Insects, birds, and other lives are now being spotted with increasing frequency.
Employees plan to continue volunteering, with the goal of creating habitat for owls, giant flying squirrels, and other wildlife.
Thinning a bamboo grove
Comments from the person in charge of collaboration at Osaka Prefecture:
The Izumisano Kyuryo Ryokuchi aims to create a park that will help achieve the SDGs. Together with the leading local companies, we have been working on activities to create a forest full of life. I eagerly look forward to initiatives that will serve as role models for creating an abundant future with a sustainable natural environment.
Fuji Foundation for Protein Research
The Fuji Oil Group has been funding academic research on soy protein since 1979. The Fuji Foundation for Protein Research*, restructured as a public interest foundation in 2012, continues and builds upon this legacy while communicating it broadly to the Japanese public. To date, the Foundation has awarded approximately 1.2 billion yen to more than 1,200 studies covering subjects from the life sciences to dietary culture, and to the science of cooking including food-tech.
In addition to funding research, the Foundation also holds free open lectures, an important part of its public interest mandate. In FY2022, we hosted a seminar featuring two speakers at the Sendai International Center in Miyagi Prefecture, with precautions taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 for in-person attendees (around 150 people participated in-person and another 100 watched via livestream).
FY2022 lecture content and speakers:
- Food Technology Will Change the Future of Food, Prof. Shin-ichi Ishikawa (Miyagi University)
Development of new food technologies that can address future food and environmental issues, such as cultured meat and plant-based meat alternatives, as well as the future of food that includes automation and the use of the Internet of things (IoT), which merges devices and information technology modelled by smart kitchens.
- Thoughts on Health and Longevity from the Perspective of Nutrition, Dr. Masafumi Kuzuya (Director, Meitetsu Hospital)
The significance of consuming soy products and the importance of engaging in social activities to prevent frailty in older people (physiological stage prior to requiring nursing care), based on clinical research experience on preventive geriatric medicine.
Front view of the public lecture
Prof. Ishikawa of Miyagi University
Dr. Kuzuya of Meitetsu Hospital
Providing a path to entrepreneurship: Chocolate business startup program for low-income earners in Brazil
Harald Indústria e Comércio de Alimentos Ltda (Brazil) has been working with local NGOs and municipalities, offering a chocolate business startup program to low-income earners in Brazil since FY2019, with 575 people that have taken part in the program in FY2022 (over 1,500 in total).
Participants were provided with online tools and ingredients, along with online courses or in-person training at community kitchens and confectionary stores in São Paulo. The program is popular with participants, who are mostly young adults and women, due to the low startup costs and quick returns of running a chocolate candy business.
In addition, more than 2,100 free workshops were held annually for making commercial chocolate and confections for consumers. More than 40 trained instructors explained how to create practical recipes.
Harald is also working with the Fundação Bunge Foundation on a pilot project for vocational training to meet the demands of people seeking employment in the food service industry. The project offers free qualification courses on baking, confectionery, and cooking to young people in the suburbs of São Paulo. Fifteen selected students spend a year obtaining professional certifications and then undergo six months of career monitoring in a practical setting in preparation for employment.
Certified students in 2022