In this corner, we would like to upload successful industry-government-university collaboration cases in the Mekong Delta from now on. The very first case is the collaboration between Takesho Food of Japan, Can Tho University (CTU) and Can Tho City. Takesho Food, the food-related trading company which has its headquarters in Niigata City of Japan, noticed the high potentiality of the Mekong Delta area to be the center of food processing industries with CTU at the core, and had started joint research and development project with CTU for the effective utilization of food resources in the Mekong Delta since January 2019 and successfully developed the highly functional rice powder. Takesho Food, with the support of CTU, has ample knowledge and strong human networks with the local government as well as the private sector, then invested approximately US$ 8 million for the construction of a factory in Can Tho City which started its operation in April 2022. We are pleased to introduce the speeches made by Mr. Tanaka, the president of Takesho Food, and Professor Toan, the rector of CTU, at the factory completion ceremony held on the 7th of June 2022.
Words of gratitude from Tanaka Toshinao, President of Takesho Food & Ingredients Inc.
I am Tanaka of Takesho Food & Ingredients Inc. (hereinafter, referred to as “Takesho”) and would like to express my sincere gratitude to our guests, who are with us today, at our Factory Completion Ceremony of Takesho Food Vietnam.
Your excellency Mr. Vu Hong Nam, Ambassador of Vietnam, Mr. Watanabe Nobuhiro, Consul General of Japan in Ho Chi Minh City, Mr. Nguyen Van Hong, Vice Chairman of Can Tho City People’s Committee, Dr. Ha Thanh Toan, Rector of Can Tho University, it is my pleasure and honor to receive such heartwarming congratulatory addresses. I have just renewed my determination to proceed our business and to dedicate myself to the development of food industry in Mekong Delta Region.
We also received an encouraging video message from Mr. Hanazumi Hideyo, the Governor of Niigata Prefecture and it strengthened my ambition to become a bridge between food industries, as well as public and academic sectors, in Mekong Delta Region and in my hometown Niigata.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all members, both in Vietnam and Japan, who had been so supportive to us, since our first visit to Can Tho City, and who worked with us in the process of factory construction. I am so delighted that we could finally host a Factory Completion Ceremony today.
Regarding our factory construction, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Toda, President of Maeda Vietnam and Mr. Kumazawa, CEO of Hydro Powtech Japan. Maeda Vietnam and other construction companies in Vietnam accomplished the construction work and installation of equipment, and Hydro Powtech Japan and its associated companies supervised the trial operation of the production facilities, during hard times of covid-19 expansion since 2020.
We are also happy to announce that we have successfully obtained HACCP Certificate in April this year and have started our commercial operation since May.
Today, I would like to talk to you why and how we started our business and what we seek to achieve in Vietnam. Before going to that story, I would like to start by the introduction of our business in Japan.
Takesho started its business as a local food wholesaler in 1960 in Niigata, Japan, and had been providing varieties of food ingredients, packaging materials and/or laboratory equipment, etc., as a dealer to food companies and research institutions in Niigata prefecture. And then, we expanded our customer to all over Japan, as a trading company which has both manufacturing facilities and R&D capability, having started a new business providing blend seasoning that combines applications of materials and/or multiple materials in the early 1980s.
Today, Takesho supports and works with a variety of food companies in their product development process, providing originally combined seasonings and utilizing the so-called “Science of Deliciousness.” In “Science of Deliciousness,” we try to obtain data using physical and chemical appliances and at the same time we also conduct sensory evaluation.
Takesho has its strength in powder blending and filling technology. We blend various kinds of powders, such as seasonings and nutritional powders. Our products include blended seasonings, dessert/cake mix powder, protein powder, etc. both on OEM and ODM. Currently, facing the problem of food loss, Takesho helps food companies extend expiry date of their products by making improvement of food ingredients, packages and/or changing manufacturing method, etc.
Now I would like to move on to how Takesho started its business in Vietnam.
The story goes back to approximately 40 years ago, when I was studying at university. As a student majored in history, I had been interested in the history of socialist countries which holds a geopolitically important position lying between the superpowers, and I was wondering whether to choose Hungary or Vietnam as my thesis. At that time, I had chosen Hungary. After graduated from university, I worked for a consulting company and a bank for several years, before joining Takesho in 1999. Even during those days, I kept my interest and passion in Vietnam.
In summer 2013, we had an internship program at Takesho, and an international student studying at Nagaoka University of Technology joined that program. He was from Vietnam and joined Takesho the next year. He was competent in Japanese language capability and had a good sense of business acumen. He also showed empathy for our Corporate Philosophy, symbolized as “Shoku (=food) no Hanataba (= a flower bouquet).” I am sure his joining Takesho encouraged me to start business in Vietnam.
I believe there are many things in common between Can Tho City and Niigata City; both located near the mouth of big rivers, rich in agri- and aqua-cultural resources, thus encouraging food industry to develop. I remember CTU professors saying, “the view looks just like Can Tho City,” looking at the extensive rice fields between Shinano River and Agano River from the top of the Hotel in Niigata City, when we invited them to Niigata in July 2019.
In Niigata, universities and research institutions have been supportive to local industries and shared their research achievements with manufacturers producing rice confectionery, rice cake and fish cake etc., in their product development and manufacturing process.
Shin-ichi Ueyama, former Director of Niigata City Research Institute for Public Policy and Management (2007 – 2014), and currently professor at Keio University, is introducing the idea of “Niigata New Food Valley” in one of his books.
In the same way, here in Can Tho City and in Mekong Delta Region, I am sure that CTU could function as a hub for technological development and networks between food companies in the region, creating “Mekong Delta Food Valley.”
In October 2017, I was invited by Professor Tomiyama, vice president of Graduate Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, located in Niigata City, to join a tour to Vietnam and had a chance to visit CTU for the first time. I met with Dr. Tran Trung Tinh, Vice Rector of CTU, and talked about the role of B2B companies, like Takesho, in “Niigata Food Valley.” Then, Dr. Tinh kindly introduced me to Dr. Ha Thanh Toan, the Rector of CTU, as well as Dr. Le Viet Dung, the Vice Rector (at that time). In February 2018, Takesho, CTU and Hydro Powtech Japan, who introduced us with a unique technology that could add value to food materials, came to an agreement on conducting two years of joint research and signed an MOU.
During the discussion, Mr. Thao, in his fifth year working at Takesho, explained our Corporate Philosophy to Dr. Toan, Dr. Dung and other members of CTU. I believe that his understanding of our Corporate Philosophy and explaining it in Vietnamese led to empathy from CTU members.
Also, we were fortunate to receive many supports from JICA members and professors at universities in Japan, including Professor Arie, Vice President of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, who were staying at or visiting CTU, involved in JICA’s “Project for Building Capacity for Can Tho University to be an Excellent Institution of Education, Scientific Research, and Technology Transfer (phase I).” I would like to express my sincere gratitude to them as well.
Joint Research with CTU started on Mr. Fujikawa arriving to Can Tho City in January 2019. Being in his third year working at Takesho, he was the very first employee in the history of Takesho to work outside Japan. He started his research in the Laboratory and Takesho Office on CTU Campus. Although everything was new to him and to Takesho, we were able to obtain some outcomes earlier than we have expected, such as functional rice powder utilizing rice in the Mekong Delta region, and seasoning using shrimp heads and shells also from the region, and thinking we could expect certain demands in OEM of blending seasonings as well, we finally made our decision to invest 8 million dollars into construction of factory.
We received enormous support from CTU, especially from Rector Toan, former Vice Rector Dung and other CTU professors. They were kind enough to introduce us where to find and procure agri- and aquacultural resources, to food companies in Mekong Delta Region which could be our potential customers, and to administrative bodies including Can Tho City People’s Committee. I am sure that academic support from the CTU professors, especially in Collage of Aquaculture and Fisheries and Collage of Agriculture were also of great help to our research.
Later, while we still had four weeks quarantine due to covid-19, 6 Takesho members moved in Can Tho City, and they worked hard for construction of the factory and installation of equipment. During which time, they had to go through many difficulties, that the members strengthened their relationship with each other.
Now, I would like to talk about the three main business objectives of Takesho Food Vietnam:
First is the establishment of “Mekong Delta Food Valley.” The abundant agri- and aquacultural resources in Mekong Delta, enabled food industry to develop in the region. Along with the “SDMD (Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta)” promoted by CTU together with JICA, establishment of Mekong Delta Food Valley, CTU in the center, will strengthen the competitiveness of food industry in the region.
In the process, B2B companies like Takesho could support food manufacturing companies. Takesho can provide local food manufacturing companies with practical support in product development and/or quality improvement, and we are willing to do so.
Second, Takesho seeks to support personal/personality growth of each employee, as its main company objective. In other words, we do not consider personal/personality growth as a means of profit gaining, but personal/personality growth itself is our company objective. And that is the basic idea of our Corporate Philosophy “Shoku (=food) no Hanataba (= a flower bouquet).” It symbolizes our business model as well, that each member of our company shares his/her knowledge and skills, and the sum of their cooperation will be offered to our customers. We would like to share this idea with members of Takesho Food Vietnam (hereinafter, referred to as “TFV”), and as a result, we also hope to pursue our business in the region successfully.
When you say personal/personality growth, at Takesho, we simply define it “to become a person who is able to contribute to others.” And as a prerequisite to that I think we should be a self-reliant person. I believe that in pursuing self-growth as well as contributing to others, a person can increase his/her self-esteem, achieve a sense of fulfillment, and confirm his/her “raison d’etre.” Again, my goal is to share the idea of our Corporate Philosophy with the young, passionate members working at TFV and to contribute to the development of food industry in the region.
Our third business objective is the “Co-creation” of values with our customers. Takesho focuses on co-creating values with our customers including food manufacturing companies and with universities and research institutions in Japan. Projects in progress are product development utilizing the “Science of Deliciousness,” cooperative promotion of care food business, and seeking opportunity in protein market, etc.
In promoting “Co-Creation” with our customers, we need an honest and open corporate culture. More importantly, each member of the company should be confident and attractive. In other words, each member should be willing to support and contribute to others and should be able to receive empathy from others to do business together. Our second business objective, that is to support personal/personality growth of each employee, as its main company objective, becomes important here as well.
CTU is the leading research institution and educational organization in the Mekong Delta Region. We would like to create new values together with CTU, sharing the idea of our corporate philosophy and the aim to establishing relationships of mutual trust with varieties of companies and research institutions in the region and in Vietnam. We would also like to collaborate with CTU in supporting motivated students by continuously providing internship program.
Last of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude, once again, to all the participants today, including TFV members. Thank you!
Speech of CTU Rector Ha Thanh Toan at Factory Opening Ceremony of Takesho Food Viet Nam Co., Ltd. (English version)
- Vũ Hồng Nam – Vietnamese Embassy in Japan
- Nobuhiro Watanabe – Consulate General of Japan in Ho Chi Minh City
- Murooka Naomichi – Deputy Chief Presentative of JICA Viet Nam Office
- Nguyễn Văn Hồng – Vice Chairman of Can Tho City People Committee
- Toshinao Tanaka – President of Takesho Food of Vietnam Co., Ltd.
- Masazumi Kumazawa – General Director of Hydro PowerTech of Japan Co., Ltd.
- Noriyasu Onoma – General Director of Takesho Food of Vietnam Co., Ltd.
To greet all Participants
- To be present today, on behalf of Can Tho University (CTU), I would like to express my honor and congratulations at the Factory Opening Ceremony of Vietnam Takesho Food Co., Ltd.
- Ladies and gentlemen, CTU with 56 years of establishment and development, is now training undergraduate and postgraduate program, which is the main point of the State and Mekong Delta and is the cultural, scientific and technical center of the region. The main tasks of CTU are training, scientific research, technology transfer for socio-economic development in the region.
- Currently, CTU offers multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary training of more than 45,000 students. In parallel with the training, CTU has actively participated in scientific research programs applying on scientific and technical achievements to solve the problems of science and technology, economy, culture and society for the region and the whole country.
- Accompanying the development of CTU, in recent years, many International strategic partners have cooperated with CTU to implement international programs and projects in order to support the community in Vietnam in general and the Mekong Delta in particular.
- Besides, CTU has also coordinated with many international partners to carry out practical and high commercial research. Collaboration with Takesho Food Co., Ltd. is a typical model for this issue.
- In 2018, CTU officially signed a cooperation agreement with Takesho Food Co., Ltd. and Hydro PowerTech Japan Co., Ltd. to carry out research and development of powder products from shrimp head shells and from pangasius by-products by hydrolyzed technology using powder pressing equipment.
- Takesho Food Co., Ltd. has invested the facility sytems to CTU for researching worth more than $ 1,000,000. The results from this collaboration are the initial successes of commercially viable research products that contributing to addressing the output for agriculture and fisheries of the Mekong Delta.
- This is a model of cooperation between CTU and enterprises, the products from researching bring the values to be implemented production and commercialization then immediately.
- Today, in the solemn moment, CTU would like to thank Takesho Food Co., Ltd. and also congratulate Takesho for building the first factory in Vietnam, the factory of Takesho Food Vietnam Co., Ltd. This is an important milestone in the development of the company, creating the premise for the next steps of development to become stronger and stronger.
- (CTU committees to continuing to accompany Takesho in building and development, we hope that Takesho will always be a strategic partner and the cooperation between the two sides is growing stronger and more sustainable).
- I would also like to thank the Government of Japan and Japanese partners for the support of CTU during this time.
- At the end of the speech, once again, on behalf of CTU, I would like to wish the company would achieve more and more victory, development and success.
- Wishing you abundant health and success. Thank you!