Japan’s Maruha Nichiro, one of the world’s largest seafood processors, has taken a minority stake in Kibun Foods.

In what Tokyo-based Maruha Nichiro called a “capital and business alliance agreement”, the company has acquired 9.9% of Kibun Foods via share purchases to the value of Y2.8bn ($18.4m).

Under its own brand name, Kibun Foods produces fish paste-based products, such as Japanese delicacies, noodles, side dishes and desserts. Varieties include hanpen, kamaboko, gyoza and chikuwa.

The company, located in the Ginza area of Tokyo, is part of the Kibun Group consisting of seven Japanese subsidiaries and another seven overseas. Kibun Foods generated sales revenue of Y105.6bn in the year through March and net income attributable to shareholders of Y442m.

“We have decided to enter into this alliance agreement with the aim of expanding both companies’ food businesses,” Maruha Nichiro said in a filing today (25 March) with the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

“Leveraging the strengths of each party, we aim to expand collaboration in the food industry both domestically and internationally. Additionally, we will explore new market creation through joint efforts in new product development, aiming to enhance customer value and increase the corporate value of both companies.”

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North America, Europe and Asia are on the watch list for international sales expansion of the two businesses, Maruha Nichiro added. Both companies already operate in and have operations in the US.

Established in 1947, Kibun Foods’ largest shareholder is Masahito Hoashi, with smaller holdings held by Kiho Trading, The Master Trust Bank of Japan and Mizuho Bank.

Maruha Nichiro said the transaction will have a limited impact on its results for the year through March 2024. The group’s net sales are expected to be relatively flat at Y1.02trln.

Net income attributable to the parent is foreseen coming in at Y22bn, compared to Y18.6bn a year earlier.

Last summer, Maruha Nichiro put an undisclosed amount of capital into Singapore-based Umami Bioworks, previously Umami Meats, which is in the process of producing cell-cultivated seafood.

In 2022, Maruha Nichiro’s Dutch subsidiary – Seafood Connection – acquired Northcoast Seafoods in the UK and the same year the Japanese parent invested in Happi Foodi, a US-based producer of frozen ready meals, pizza and snacks, previously trading as Waffle Waffle.

A year earlier, the company took a majority stake in Japan tuna business Marine Access and acquired Vietnam-based seafood supplier Sai Gon Food outright.