Hello, I’m Deguchi from Chitose.
A whole year has passed since HOTTOPICS started as a WEB magazine !
I am hoping that the 2nd year will be as exciting as the first!
● We held the annual company meeting for the year 2019.
● Launch of the new brand, Tabérumo!
● Participating in one of the biggest innovation events in South-East Asia.
● From the sites in Southeast Asia – Cameron Highlands (Part Three)
● Introducing our new member.
● We held the annual company meeting for year 2019
At the end of June, members of Chitose gathered from all over Asia to join the company’s annual meeting.
The atmosphere seemed to become livelier when members from Singapore and Malaysia showed up.
Like last year, our group CEO Dr. Fujita delivered a 3 hours speech.
It’s the only day in the year where Dr. Fujita can speak directly to all members in the company.
Dr. Fujita first reminded the members that we shouldn’t design our business model starting from technology , but designing it by working backwards starting from the society we want to make. And told all of us again that it is our job to make the flow of “business → technology” in order to develop necessary technologies for the business.
▷This idea is also mentioned in the Value page of our group website.
After which Dr. Fujita also talked about 3 other topics. About changing the group system, an interim report related to the “bio strategy” that Dr. Fujita is involved in as an expert, and about what it is like to start up a venture-capital corporation.
Let me summarise the part of changing the group system here.
CHITOSE Group considers a project as a standard unit, and adopts the system of making a company when the project becomes a business.
To strengthen the system, it was announced that the organizational system is going to be changed. The members will be clearly divided into two groups. The first consists of members that might be transferred to the new enterprise, and the second group of members will support from the main side of the Chitose.
Each member needs to constantly think about their values since the members will be gathered for each project. The leader of the project has to be responsible for the results and costs, and face the tradeoff at the end.
In addition, improving the functions of the head office will enable it to effectively support the whole group!
I’d be grateful if you could come along the journey together with the ever evolving CHITOSE Group.
By the way, at last year’s annual company meeting, the story of “place and point of view“ left a huge impression on me. This time, I have two points that were unforgettable.
✔It is important to meet more than a 1% of the expectation.
✔Experiencing tradeoff leads to development
I felt it was understandable rather than feeling as though I’m learning something new, but could it be because the speaker was my direct boss Dr. Fujita… ?
What do you feel from these words?
● Launch of the new brand, Tabérumo!
This time, due to rebranding, Tavelmout Corp. has changed the former logo of a drop of water to a logo that expresses health, harmony, and hope for all living things on earth. The English written form of “Tavelmout” has also been changed to “Tabérumo”. Although Tabérumo has been busy starting production in Brunei this summer and preparing to start putting new products on the market next fall, Tabérumo will become a more fascinating brand than what it used to be and appeal to a wider range of customers.
▷▷The new brand website is here (Japanese only).
On June 28th(Fri), a reception party was held at “ukafe” in Roppongi Tokyo to commemorate the brand renewal. Akiko Ito from Tabérumo will share with you the thoughts put into the new brand and give a report on the reception party.
◯Akiko Ito（Sales Planning Division, Tabérumo Corporation）：
Click here for more information about the brand renewal (Japanese only)
After revamping the brand, we held a reception party on June 28th inviting press, writers, influencers, bloggers, and some others that were chosen from a draw, so I would like to give a report about it.
Until the opening, in contrast to the busy Tabérumo staff preparing the documents and the projector, following the dress code to be in “something green”, women in green dresses or men with small needlepoint designs started to gather. The party began gloriously.
After deepening our knowledge about spirulina and Tabérumo through listening to Sasaki’s presentation, Sasaki held a talk session and photo session inviting Ms. Kelly who works as a model as a guest. A light meal using Tabérumo products that looked nice for SNS and drinks designed by Ms. Kelly were provided as well.
Ms. Kelly uses Tabérumo products in her everyday life. All the members of Tabérumo became her fans due her beauty, kindness, and thoughtfulness.
The hall was veiled with Ms. Kelly and Sasaki’s soft atmosphere, the nice tasting refreshments and the brightness of the participants including Ms.Kelly made the party wonderful. Of course Tabérumo left a good impression.
Contents from the event has already been uploaded on various SNS sites with the hashtag “Tabérumo”. Please check them out!
▷Chick here for the press release of this event (Japanese only)!
● Participating in one of the biggest innovation events in South-East Asia
One of the biggest innovation events in South-East Asia is called ”Innovfest Unbound”.
One of our companies, Tierraponica Corp. took part in Japan Pavilion which set up a theme “Social Good Through Innovation”.
Kitamura who participated in this event will give a report.
◯Reona Kitamura（Tech & Biz Development Division）：
This time, Tierraponica was chosen by Japan Pavilion’s Innovfest Unbound. I took part in the exhibition which was held in Singapore on June 27-28.
Tierraponica, a company which develops fertigation by utilizing microbes and using organic substances as raw materials, was established in July 2018 as part of “0to1 project” with Mitsui Chemicals Corp.. Not only Japan but countries such as Singapore and UAE where they have to rely on importing vegetables, are aggressively continuing to develop.
Innovfest Unbound, where we exhibited, is an exhibition where innovatory companies with advanced technology gather from all over the world. About 80% of the companies at the exhibition were from the IT industry, so we had a different background from the others. Eventually, we introduced more than 200 people about our business. I believe it’s because we were so unique to the audience.
Difference between Japan and Singapore
While staying in Singapore, there were a lot of moments when I felt the difference between Japan and Singapore.
For example, at the talk segment of the exhibition, the speaker takes the platform with a loud BGM that looks like a boxing hall, which was highly entertaining. There were more than 1000 audiences getting into swing and heating up the atmosphere. Ian felt that I had caught a glimpse of the national characteristics of a Singaporean
The greatest difference is the “sense of speed”. Singapore hasland area of only about the size of the 23 wards of Tokyo, so it is possible to move to another office from any place in 30 minutes, and the next appointment could be arranged very quickly. In Japan, there are some cases where a couple of months have passed by after emailing “talk to you soon”. However, in Singapore, many people such as students or the enterprise’s CEO uses SNS and chat applications. A few days after the exhibition, we also exchanged opinions with companies that were interested in our business vision.
The condition of agricultural development in Singapore
Three years ago since I joined Chitose group, I’ve been supporting agriculture that promotes sustainable environment in Malaysia from Japan, such as negotiating with a nursery company inside Japan. And in Singapore, I felt that the movement of hydroponics has been speeding up compared to 2 years ago.
Especially, in recent years, the slogan called “30 by 30” which the singapore government promoted in the aim to raise the 10% food self-sufficiency to 30% by 2030, had a big impact. (In Singapore, the national policy mostly decides the course of business action for good or badl.)
Simply going for ”30 by 30” only, expanding the scale of the existing hydroponics that is starting to popularize in Singapore will make it hard to achieve. Chemical fertilizer isn’t the only way to raise food self-sufficiency quickly, but on the other side, I felt our Tierraponica cultivation which is a recycling-oriented cultivating system that reuses the food waste well inside the country, can be one of the pillars of vegetable cultivation in Singapore as an alternative.
*In Singapore, ‘biodigester’ which liquid-fertilizes the food waste, is widespread. And it is installed in many shopping malls including Changi Airport.
‘Common language’ that can be acquired by knowing the actual place
The other day, when I arranged the inspection of our plantation and the selling site in Singapore for the person in charge from the nursery company that helps our agriculture business in Malaysia, I felt strongly that “what we see can directly become a common language in promoting business”. This time, by watching the hydroponic farm on the rooftop of a building, the selling site, and coming into contact with food culture of the place, it reminded me of the ‘common language’ again.
Personally, South-East Asia was the first place I ever visited overseas 10 years ago. I used to travel to countries while taking a leave of absence from university, and got fascinated by the people, food, nature, culture, and the openness of the place. At that time, I avoided visiting Singapore because I had a strong image that it was a trading hub and thought that they have almost no unique culture of their own.
However, while staying there this time, I found a building near our office which I would say is ‘a band of cultures’, where unique culture nurtured underground even in the small area .
(I broke into a smile thinking there was a cultural connection across the country, when I found a second hand record of Kenji Endo, which is one of my favorite Japanese singers, on the shelf at a record shop in Singapore.)
At the same time I felt this experience helped to increase the resolution of the image viewed from outside of Singapore, by viewing the country from various angles and increase the knowledge of the ‘common language’.
Development after Innovfest Unbound
It guess I went a little off the track, however, this stay had proved to have great benefit for our business development, thanks to everyone in JETRO who helped us not only in the time of the exhibition, but also the prior lecture and the follow-up after the event. We are discussing with the local companies we met at the exhibition, and hope that extending Japanese technology to overseas for the sake of environmental maintenance and activating the economy may be the best return for the people at JETRO, and we are thinking of expediting the movement of the business development even more than ever.
Lastly, it was very encouraging as one who was involved in both projects, when many participants said “I often buy your Chitose strawberries!” while standing at the booth.
● From the sites in Southeast Asia – Cameron Highlands (Part Three)
20% of the members in CHITOSE GROUP are from Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei). The situation at this moment is one where the main area where large-scale businesses are expanding is in Southeast Asia. So, the feelings from those involved in the hands-on business can only be told from the site in Southeast Asia! I can’t always go there to conduct an interview, so I decided to ask our members who are doing their best at the site to write about it by starting the series “From the sites in Southeast Asia”.
The 1st part is about Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, the production base of “Chitose strawberry”. Kataoka will provide us with information from the site throughout the next 5 months.
・Drinking liquor and be overwhelmed by people.
・The forever fall season Cameron Highlands.
・People at the front line of strawberry production. ←This issue
・Defeat the local pests! (Scheduled for vol.64)
・Things that I want to try in Southeast Asia, beyond being a producer. (Scheduled for vol.65)
People at the front line of strawberry production.
Our projects in Malaysia are basically divided into the farm team and packing team. The assistants of the farm team are mainly strong men laborers from Bangladesh, and most assistants in the packing team are women with Chinese origins that are deft with their hands.
Most Bangladeshis in the plantation team are Muslims, so they start their day by praying everyday before the sunrise. And after having a quick breakfast, in the cool air with the darkness still in the sky, they harvest the strawberries while getting wet by the evening dew of the strawberry leaves. After awhile, the morning light starts to shine on the strawberries and glitters the drops of dew on the leaves, which is the most beautiful moment.
Managing the strawberries start after the harvest, such as removing old leaves, too many flowers or counter measuring an agriculture disease. And the afternoon part starts after lunch. This is the hottest and harshest moment. The vinyl plastic hothouse becomes more than 35 degrees because of the netting to prevent insects from damaging the plants or crops. They play the Koran through an application on their cellphones or start to sing with a well projected voice as though to give a pep talk, maybe because they become tired due to the hard work or from being in the heat too long. I am sure that no one would hear the Koran played in a strawberry farm in Japan.
When the sun begins to set, their voices get smaller as though the air calmed down, and is replaced by the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’. And right away, the good waft of curry floats around the farm. When I ask, “what are you eating?” they answer the names of the raw materials such as ‘chicken’, ‘fish’, ‘beef’ with a look of delight. A simple ‘curry’ would be a better answer to me, but to the curry masters who eat curry basically everyday, just by answering ‘curry’ probably sounds too coarse. I felt ashamed of myself thinking that all curry are the same, and at the same time, I thought it was funny because it is about the same as how they express all the different agriculture diseases as ‘Saki (disease)’.
It’s the men’s world in the farm, on the other hand, it’s the women’s world in the indoor packing center. Strawberries that are picked in the morning from the farm goes to the office and the packing center next to the Chinese restaurant and packed into the tray one by one. Since Japanese strawberries prioritises the taste, the skins are very soft. So, not everyone can do the packing, and even those who can do needs to go through training.
Also, since it’s the kind of work that allows each individual’s characteristic to conspicuously come out, the packing team has to be managed well in order to even the workers. The language they speak are all different. Now, English, Malay, and Chinese fly past each other. They look to be having so much fun working that they are almost like teenagers… so they give me joy whenever I visit and see their working atmosphere.
＊Writer：Yosuke Kataoka（Chitose Agri Laboratory, Bio Engineer）
Worked in the mountains of Malaysia on Borneo island for 2 years after joining Chitose, and thereafter became in charge of the Southeast Asian agriculture project in producing “Chitose strawberry” mainly in Cameron Highlands.
To be continued in the next HOTTOPICS
Click here if it’s your first time hearing about “Chitose strawberry”
▶Malaysia made “Japanese Quality Strawberries” seek to build the future of agriculture in Asia
● Introducing our new member
Another member came in June!
◯Naokazu Matsumura（Tech & Biz Development Div.）
My major was genetic nursery studies when I was in University. Chitose Laboratory was ‘a company that made me feel anxious somehow’ since I notice Dr. Furusawa’s Disparity mutagenesis model and Neo-Morgan Laboratory (the present Chitose Laboratory) as it became necessary to keep my eyes open to breeding methods or creation of mutation.
My previous job was to make teaching materials and teach for a measure of civil-service examination. Luckily I became a member of Chitose, when I was thinking about my own career path, I thought “I want to challenge working in a company that’s stuck in my mind” while receiving and answering specific questions, teaching how to create study plans and how to keep hearts still, and consulting about student’s aptitudes.
I’ve experienced various jobs like research, education and making teaching materials. However, I think there was a strong draw towards carrying out a mission. It is a first time for me to create my own business, but I want to work hard and try not to be too obsessed by making use of my experiences.
One year ago, the monthly HOTTOPICS started without receiving any permission.
After 3 months had passed from the starting point, I felt a little regret about making the declaration, thinking that this may make my own situation really difficult.
I’m relatively good at the type of work which requires concentration and to inish it quickly. I didn’t study very much daily in my school days (!), and went through just studying before tests. It went fine somehow, but to mature a little more, I felt that I needed to make something as a habit for myself. So, I decided to write HOTTOPICS every month as a task.
This had an enormous effect on me.
・I can see everybody’s success that was previously unknown.
・I got into the habit of finding news daily.
・By writing it myself regularly, it became easy to request other members to write.
・It made it possible to have exchanges with many people and construct relationships by updating the notification mail every month.
・It became easier to introduce myself to a new person when the person had read my article before.
・I became sensitive about the ‘notice’ because stories that I write here (editorial note) usually just pops up in my mind.
And so on and so on…maybe there are more if I think a little bit more.
It may be an exaggeration, but it grew up (?) by writing HOTTOPICS.