Port city Nemuro sets the hook in promoting saury exports to Vietnam

Kyodo

The city of Nemuro, Hokkaido, which boasts the nation’s largest saury catches, has been stepping up efforts to export the fish to Vietnam.

To expand sales to Southeast Asia, the port city gave a sales pitch to senior Vietnamese officials with the support of the Japan External Trade Organization in April 2010. The city said it chose Vietnam as its initial target because demand for imported sea fish there has been growing.

In May 2010, Nemuro founded an export promotion committee jointly with local business groups and fisheries cooperative associations. As part of the effort, the city is taking part in the Oishii Nippon Fair, a trade exhibition cohosted by JETRO to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Japanese-Vietnamese relations. It is being held in Ho Chi Minh City from Tuesday through Sunday.

Among recent activities, Nemuro Mayor Shunsuke Hasegawa, along with other city officials, visited Hanoi and Da Nang in January.

“We’re hoping to let Vietnamese people know the authentic taste of our saury,” a senior official in the Nemuro Municipal Government said.

Saury is popular in Japan because its reasonable priced, whereas in Vietnam the fish is expensive and viewed as something of a delicacy. It is mostly targeted at high-income households.

Vietnamese treat the Nemuro brand differently than saury imported from other areas, such as Taiwan, the city government said.

Officials said saury is eaten there as sashimi or “shioyaki” (salt-grilled) style. Exports of frozen saury from Nemuro to Vietnam surged to about 415 tons in fiscal 2012 from 6.7 tons in fiscal 2010, the city said.

As a further sign of its popularity, the Nemuro mayor has been told by a Vietnamese chamber of commerce and industry that the chamber’s head is looking to visit the city, while some sales brokers have told municipal officials they are interested in importing as much as 1,000 tons of saury to Vietnam.