Odac boosts sales of Okinawan mushrooms to Taiwan

Odac boosts sales of Okinawan mushrooms to Taiwan

Okinawan mushrooms sold in Thailand. Odac has expanded its market into locations in Asia such as Taiwan and Singapore. (Provided by Odac)

August 25, 2012 Fumiaki Jahana of Ryukyu Shimpo

Odac, a distributor based in Kin of mushrooms, fruit and vegetables, has been promoting the export of Okinawan mushrooms to Asia. In addition to Thailand and Singapore, there is an increasing demand in Taiwan. Since this April, every month they have exported about ten tons of buna-shimeji or brown beech mushrooms. The company aims to establish a system that enables them to supply their products throughout the year.

Cooperating with the three companies, Kunigami Kinoko-en, Nakijin Kinoko-en and Kinoko Center Kin, Odac sells brown beech mushrooms and enokidake or hackberry mushrooms to supermarkets in Okinawa. They have about a 60 percent share of the Okinawan market. However, competition between their products and imported produce is very keen in the market and sales of their products in Okinawa have been leveling off in the past year. For this reason, they have been looking to establish new markets abroad.

According to the company, in Taiwan there is demand for about 60000 to 70000 tons of mushrooms per year, but local Taiwanese producers can supply only about 25000 tons. In the background to this, the production volume has been declining in Taiwan because of cheaper imports from China and Korea.

While Japanese mushrooms have a competitive advantage because of their high quality, they are relatively expensive. Nevertheless, Odac has strengthened sales in Taiwan since last April. Market research suggests that the white shimeji mushroom is particularly popular, and many customers buy many large packs of mushrooms. During the period from spring to summer when the market demand in Okinawa falls, the company has started to export its products to Taiwan and has achieved stable monthly supplies.

To export to Thailand and Singapore, Odac uses the All Nippon Airways international airfreight service at Naha Airport, which is a hub for air transport. The company is now selling two tons per month to Thailand. It has previously delivered its produce to Taiwan by ship. Odac hopes that direct flights between Okinawa and Taiwan will provide a stable transportation option in future, because exports to Taiwan are growing through a year. Katsunori Ito, the head of the company said, “We can meet customer demand even more effectively, if we can dispatch frozen products directly to Taiwan. I want to use Okinawa’s geographical advantages to expand markets in Asia.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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