Kikkoman Foods, Inc.(KFI) 45th Anniversary
U.S.-Japan Food Distribution Symposium

On June 7, 2018, the ninth U.S.-Japan Food Distribution Symposium was held in Wisconsin, the United States. The theme of the symposium was "Evolving Consumer Behavior and Food Retailing Strategies." Opinions were exchanged from a variety of angles on what steps to take and how to view market changes and consumer behavior with the rise of e-commerce and the expansion of new types of businesses.

Presentation Materials

[Keynote Speech]

Professor Kazunari Uchida, Waseda Business School

Professor Kazunari Uchida, Waseda Business School

Fostering exceptional innovation requires not only implementing technological innovations, but also structural and psychological changes. One of the major drivers in changing consumer behavior is the shift in Japanese population demographics. Another driver is psychological changes of consumers and their demands for safety and environmental factors. These changes must be observed over time.

Professor Rajiv Lal, PhD, Harvard Business School

Professor Rajiv Lal, PhD, Harvard Business School

The supermarket business is in a slump. The rapid rise of e-commerce requires self-reform. The key is how well the industry can gain consumer confidence of millennials. Other key points that must be considered are downsizing stores, focusing on fresh foods, delicatessens or seafood, and expanding deliveries in parking lots or with courier services.

[Panel discussion and panelist presentation]

Ms. Carmela Cugini, Vice President of Grocery, US eCommerce, Walmart Inc.

Ms. Carmela Cugini, Vice President of Grocery, US eCommerce, Walmart Inc.

The food and beverages e-commerce market will grow if it offers a wide range of choice at low prices and with free delivery services. Walmart offers three platforms: a store pickup service, a delivery service, and a special service for urban areas called Jet.com. These platforms give us an economic advantage.

Mr. Ryuichi Isaka, President and Representative Director, Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd.

Mr. Ryuichi Isaka, President and Representative Director, Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd.

From June, Seven-Eleven and Ito-Yokado introduced a joint consumer ID via an app to track purchasing histories. We are also testing a service to deliver products two hours after being ordered via smartphone. These services are part of our efforts to adapt to the evolving IT landscape.

Mr. Jerry Golub, Vice Chairman, The Golub Corporation.

Mr. Jerry Golub, Vice Chairman, The Golub Corporation.

We have opened 134 stores in six northeastern states in the USA, using freshness as our main selling point. Our focus is on making shopping easy and enjoyable, such as holding cooking demonstrations at our seafood or meat sections. We are also concentrating on health care.

Mr. Makoto Ueda, Representative Director and President, The Maruetsu, Inc. & Representative Director and Chairman, United Super Markets Holdings Inc.

Mr. Makoto Ueda, Representative Director and President, The Maruetsu, Inc. & Representative Director and Chairman, United Super Markets Holdings Inc.

We are expanding Maruetsu Petit, mini supermarkets for downtown areas. To avoid competition with convenience stores, the focus is on freshness, and providing an enjoyable shopping experience, even at a small-scale. We are also focusing on product selection that matches each store's customer base.

Mr. Richard Niemann Jr., President & CEO, Niemann Foods, Inc.

Mr. Richard Niemann Jr., President & CEO, Niemann Foods, Inc.

Our focus is on engaging customers, for example by making butter or smoking deli meat in-store, or offering homemade bread. We are conscious of our roots in agriculture, so we are also emphasizing fresh food at our convenience stores.

Mr. Yukio Kawano, Chairman, Yaoko Co., Ltd.

Mr. Yukio Kawano, Chairman, Yaoko Co., Ltd.

We run our stores with a focus on value over price. Our emphasis is the freshness of our fresh foods and delicatessen products, so we empower our management at individual stores to create marketplaces where local customers will gather.