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Japanese NIPPN rebrands to become diversified all-around food company

18 January 202112 min reading

Akiko Kimura

Akiko Kimura
Managing Director and General Manager
Business Development & Support,
International Business Div.
NIPPN Corporation

“After 124 years, we developed our business model from flour milling business into a general food business and in order to continue our development as a “diversified all-around food company”, we decided to change our company name both in name and reality. Overseas business is one of the growth areas for NIPPN which will intensively promote into the future. We are currently focusing on the rapidly growing markets of Asia and North America.”

Founded in 1896, Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd. is among the leading food manufacturers in East Asia. As the first modern mechanical flour milling company in Japan, the Tokyo-based company is on the track to become a global player beyond Japan on this successful journey. It is operating a wide range of food businesses, including the flour milling business, which remains a significant part of NIPPN portfolio, the food ingredients business, which manufactures premixes, the processed food business, which manufactures pasta and home-use groceries, and the frozen foods business. To achieve a more multifaceted food enterprise, the Japanese company has been expanding its operations. In that regard, they are investing both in Japan and overseas. They conduct local production and sales activities at 3 business locations in China, 2 business locations each in Thailand, Indonesia and in the USA. Last year, they built a new frozen dough production plant in Thailand and will complete the construction of a new premix plant in Indonesia. NIPPNThe company has also decided to expand as a diversified all-around food company by changing its name. Effective January 1st 2021, Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd. changed its company name to NIPPN CORPORATION (“NIPPN”). “After 124 years, we developed our business model from flour milling business into a general food business and to continue our development as a “diversified all-around food company”, we decided to change our company name both in name and reality,” says Ms. Akiko Kimura, Managing Director and General Manager at Business Development & Support, International Business Division of NIPPN Corporation. Speaking to Miller Magazine, she underlines that they are currently focusing on the rapidly growing markets of Asia and North America.

Ms. Kimura answers our questions on the changes and challenges in the food manufacturing industry, and the company's future targets and investments to address these challenges.

Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd. has 124 years of history. It has been a long journey. Could you please provide us with some brief background information on that great history?
Our company was founded in 1896 as Japan's first private mechanical flour milling company. Our company originated from the government established company of Sapporo Flour Mills in Hokkaido in 1873 which was subsequently merged with Nippon Flour Mills.

Through our 124 years of history, we progressed together with the development of society. Started from the flour milling business, we have promoted business diversification into food, ready-made meals (Nakashoku), healthcare business and others as group businesses. The business diversification started after WWII, and after 1993, we have promoted major reforms through the reorganization of our Japanese manufacturing locations and expansion of the international business operations in order to expand our business field and reinforce our earning base. We became a “diversified all-around food company” and our current business includes flour milling, premixes, pasta, Italian foods, frozen foods, ready-made meals (Nakashoku), healthcare, biotechnology and others.

NIPPN NIPPN continues strengthening its business foundation with new investments. Last November, they completed the construction of a new frozen food plant at the Isesaki Plant in Isesaki City.

On January 1st 2021, we are changing our company name from “Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd.” to “NIPPN CORPORATION” to become a “diversified all-around food company” both in name and reality.

Nippon Flour Co., Ltd. is a leading milling company in Japan and greater East Asia. You are an important player in Asia's nutrition. What kind of role and place does Nippon Flour Co., Ltd. in its sector? Could you tell us how your company has come to its current position?
Our flour milling business delivers stable quantity of high-quality wheat flour to customers in the bakery, noodles, confectionary and food sector. Our market share in wheat flour milling in Japan is about 23%. Our mission statements are “Strive as a corporation, to gain trust from customers and continue to grow in strength.” and “Make an effort on a daily basis to keep every customer satisfied, by offering, in every area of business, competitive products and services of superior quality, thereby contributing to society”. Based on this mission statements, we created our principles which we are implementing in our everyday business. We have built up a strong business relationship with many customers over many years and we owe many thanks to all our customers and stakeholders in this respect.

[box type="shadow" align="alignleft" class="" width=""]How many mills and plants do you have all over the world and where are they located?

We have 7 mills in Japan (no mills overseas). Our major food plants including those of our related companies are listed below. • Premix plant: 3 in Japan, 2 in the overseas (China and Thailand) • Pasta plant: 2 in Japan, 1 in the USA • Frozen food plant: 3 in Japan, 1 in Thailand[/box]

Can you give us some information about your milling capacity? Our total daily milling capacity is 5,500 t per day (on an ingredient basis).

Which kind of products do you produce? What are your best-known brands?
We are producing wheat flour, premixes, pasta, frozen foods, ready-made meals (Nakashoku) and healthcare products. Our best-known brands are “nippn”, “(Nippn)” and “(Oh’my)”.

Flour Mills Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd has 7 mills in Japan, including the Chiba Mill which has one of the highest flour milling capacities in the country.

Where do you import wheat for flour?
We import wheat mainly from the USA, Canada and Australia.

Where do you export your products?
We are mostly exporting wheat flour for professional use to Asia and North America.

Japanese consumers have high-quality taste standards. How do you satisfy the consumers’ needs?
We are developing our products by communicating closely with our business partners, proactively doing market research in order to understand the customer’s and consumer’s needs, and with our various expertise and technology.

Consumers’ attitudes, priorities and behaviors are shifting. Covid-19 pandemic has triggered health and wellness spending. Could you tell us about changing eating habits and food trends in East Asia? How do you plan to respond to these demands?
In Japan, consumer lifestyle became diverse with changes in the social environment such as the aging population and declining birthrate, greater participation of women in society and increase in double-income households and small households. Regarding food, this led to the growing needs, for example, food for a single person, convenience and better-for-you. In addition, due to COVID-19, the needs for cooking and eating at home and health consciousness is increasing. Also, reducing the use of plastic and food waste and ethical consumption are starting to be recognized in Japanese society. Our company is focusing in product development in order to respond to the customer’s diversified needs and to social issues. For example, we are increasing the product lineup in the home-use frozen food.

Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd. decided to change its company name. What is the motivation behind this decision? Does this decision have anything to do with changing consumer trends?
After 124 years, we developed our business model from flour milling business into a general food business and in order to continue our development as a “diversified all-around food company”, we decided to change our company name to come along with the reality. Changes in the consumer’s trends also influenced our business development and in other words our transformation into a “diversified all-around food company”.

You have plants in 8 different locations and distribute your products in a large area. It needs a solid supply chain. How do you manage this?
In order to enhance our competitiveness and have a stable supply to our customers, we constructed a supply chain with the QCDE (Quality, Cost, Delivery, and Environmental attributes). Also, we are maintaining and improving an impartial and fair relationship with our suppliers.

Besides, in our corporation structure, we have four business units, three for the Japanese market which are “Wheat Flour Business Dept.”, “Foods Dept.” and “Nakashoku (ready-made meals) Business Dept.”, and one for the overseas business, “International Business Div.”, which operate appropriately in their business field. In addition, we have the “Production & Technology Dept.” which support the other four business units.

Do you have any plans to expand your business outside East Asia? What are your future targets in your operating market? Which regions and markets do you see as potential?
Overseas business is one of the growth areas for NIPPN which we will intensively promote into the future. We are currently focusing on the rapidly growing markets of Asia and North America. In Asia, we conduct local production and sales activities mainly of premix at 3 business locations in China, 2 business locations each in Thailand and Indonesia. We are actively making investments in these areas to expand business activities. We built a new frozen dough production plant in Thailand in 2020, and moreover, we are proceeding with the construction of a new premix plant in Indonesia. Furthermore, we will continue to expand our business globally by promoting such measures as export, business tie-up, M&A, etc.

NIPPN manufactures flour, pasta, premix, frozen foods, ready-made meals and etc. They are also introducing new products to meet the rising health concerns of consumers.

You have a dynamic, visionary investment perspective. You have been increasing your production capacity and promoting product diversification. Could you tell me about your future investment plans? Looking to the future, what do you believe the opportunities are for the company?

Currently, we are proceeding with the construction of a new premix plant in Indonesia. We regard the overseas business as one of the growth areas, in recent years we have added new plants and production lines. (Ex. we installed an additional line at the pasta plant in the USA in 2017, built new premix plant in Shanghai, China and installed an additional line at the premix plant in Thailand in 2018. We also built a new frozen dough production plant in Thailand in 2020.) The population and economy in the USA, China and ASEAN regions where we are operating, are continuously growing, and the needs in eating habits is also diversifying. We are going to actively invest in these areas to expand business activities. In Japan, while the consumer’s needs is diversifying, the demand for home-use frozen food is especially growing, and so, in 2020, we have built new plants to increase our production capacity. We will continue to invest in the growth areas to meet various needs and to respond to the growing demand in the market.

What are the major challenges for the Japanese flour milling industry today?
The reduction in the demand of food products due to the decreasing birthrate, aging population and decreasing of the entire population.

A fresh start for NIPPN

Toshiya Maezuru Toshiya Maezuru - NIPPN’s President & C.O.O.

[box type="shadow" align="aligncenter" class="" width=""]Effective January 1st 2021, Nippon Flour Mills Co., Ltd. changed its company name to NIPPN CORPORATION (“NIPPN”) to inspire themselves to become a “diversified all-around food company”. NIPPN’s President & C.O.O. Mr. Toshiya Maezuru announced this strategic move with a message detailing the aim and vision of the change. In his message, Mr. Maezuru explains how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the food industry, what challenges it brings and outlines how they will overcome these challenges.

Mr. Maezuru’s message is as follows:

NIPPN was founded in 1896 as a wheat flour milling company. Since 1950’s, we had gradually diversified our business scope to include pasta, premix, frozen foods and ready-made meals. Recently we are focusing also on the health care products including flaxseed and ceramide in response to rising health concerns of consumers.

NIPPN, as a group, is promoting overseas business mainly in Asia and North America. NIPPN manufactures and sells premix and related products in China, Thailand and Indonesia. NIPPN manufactures and sells flour-based products such as pasta and premix in the United States.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought about a big change to product demands and buying behavior of consumers, thus affecting our business to a large degree. Rising at-home consumption increased the demand of our retail products while the retention of eating out habit forced the decrease of our food service products. Under these circumstances, we faced with many challenges to fulfill our corporate social responsibility, i.e., procuring stable supply of foods, meeting growing customers’ demands, etc. NIPPN engaged in these challenges by upgrading and/or degrading production and establishing recovery measures. I feel that it is now more than ever that we have been tested to go with the changing tide.

We see that every company is trying hard to find the best way to correspond to various changes under this restrictive situation. NIPPN will engage in these changing challenges from short- and medium-term perspectives, speedily and proactively. The company name change to NIPPN will be certainly a parameter to come along with these perspectives.

While focusing on expansion of sales channels in frozen foods, ready-made meal and overseas business, our key business areas, we will seek new business opportunities through strategic investment. To this end, we will stay positive in making every effort, i.e., capital investment, collaboration with other entities, etc.

We will pursue our mission as a food company to procure a stable supply of foods as well as provision of nutritious and tasty foods. We will also endeavor to continue our R&D efforts to develop healthy foods and functional ingredients for health conscious consumers.

New year 2021 marks our fresh start as a “diversified all-around food company” under the new company name “NIPPN” to achieve further growth with concerted and united efforts of all employees.

I am excited to share NIPPN’s new journey with everyone concerned![/box]
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