SAPPORO - As authorities in Hokkaido fret about an unwanted boom in the deer population, one firm is capitalizing on the situation by turning oil extracted from the fat of the wild animals into shampoo.
The overpopulation of native Ezo deer has caused huge damage to crops, forcing authorities to cull their numbers. Most of the meat, however, can’t be sold as it does not meet standards for human consumption.
Cao Xuefeng, president of the leather goods firm Wayoutokushin Co., wanted to make better use of the parts of deer normally discarded in the process of creating deerskin leather.
Consulting oil experts, he learned that oil from the deer contains moisturizing substances. After struggling for years, Cao succeeded in making health and beauty products such as shampoos and body soaps by blending deer oil with other substances.
“I hope (our products) can help promote capturing of more deer,” said Cao, 46.
A former high school teacher from Heilongjiang province in China, Cao came to Japan in 2003 and attended a vocational school in Hokkaido. He worked in companies such as a gear wheel manufacturing plant before starting his own business in 2014.
His interest in the market value of culled deer was piqued after attending a deer meat tasting event around 2013.
Samples of his shampoo partly made from such oil were first distributed to Japan and China before the final products sent on sale in April, including at a major shop in Tokyo selling lifestyle products.
Wayoutokushin aims to sell more than 30,000 shampoo and other products from deer oil in the business year through next March.
In fiscal 2015, crop damage in Hokkaido caused by deer totaled ¥4.3 billion. Of 124,000 culled Ezo deer, only 17.6 percent was eligible to be processed for their meat due to freshness and other quality problems.
Cao said he believes other parts of Ezo deer could also be converted into products for commercial use.