Chubu Centrair International Airport in Aichi Prefecture has emerged as a key hub for agricultural exporters as they capitalize on local subsidies, a global washoku food boom and weakening yen.
With strong support from local authorities and the business community, including a recently introduced export promotion plan, some companies have moved cargo operations from other airports to Centrair.
“Fatty fish is very popular abroad and Japanese yellowtail is one of the best on the list,” said Hiroyuki Ono, chief executive officer of Owasebussan Co., a marine products dealer based in Owase, Mie Prefecture.
With the number of Japanese restaurants in Taiwan increasing in recent years, more Taiwanese have also grown to enjoy eating sashimi and sushi, which is not typically found in their food culture.
The firm shipped its first batch of farmed yellowtail to Taiwan from Centrair on July 6. Its fish exports total 100 tons every year at about the same price as in Japan.
Owasebussan said it planned to expand its sales channel to Southeast Asia and Europe, aiming to make exports 10 percent of its annual ¥12 billion in sales revenue within five years.
Owasebussan officials said they chose Centrair as their cargo base because of the subsidies offered by local authorities and business organizations to companies newly exporting products from the airport under an agricultural and food product export promotion plan introduced this year.
“The plan supports companies which are actively seeking new opportunities,” said Owasebussan Executive Managing Director Hisashi Iinuma.
Toyoake Kaki Co., the nation’s top distributor of potted flowers, moved its export base from Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture to Centrair last year.
The firm, which is based in Toyoake, Aichi Prefecture, and has been exporting flowers since 2003, said it made the move because Centrair was located in the center of Japan and was a convenient distribution center for flowers coming in from across the country.
“In addition to the weakening yen, the economies of other Asian countries are booming. All the conditions are met for us to export,” said a Toyoake Kaki official.
The official said cherry blossoms have also become popular recently, especially in the Middle East, adding that the company, which already has a sales network comprising 13 countries, hopes to expand its overseas sales further.
In June, the municipal government of Iga in Mie Prefecture used Centrair to ship local specialties such as Iga beef and sake to Milan, Italy, to be displayed at the ongoing Expo Milano 2015.
“Since the G-7 summit will be held in the prefecture next year, we have a good chance to promote local products,” said Mie Vice Gov. Eiichi Ishigaki.
According to the Nagoya Tax Authority, exports from Centrair in 2014 totaled ¥860.9 billion, though agricultural and marine products occupied only 0.2 percent at ¥2 billion.
A committee made up of local authorities and businesses to facilitate the use of the airport hopes to increase this further, as well as promote the local agricultural and marine industries.
This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on July 11.