Asia: Kikkoman plans to enter greenhouse tomato business

Soy sauce giant Kikkoman Corp. is set to enter the tomato farming business as early as next month, according to sources. Armed with experience in producing ketchup and improving tomato varieties developed by its affiliate Nippon Del Monte Corp., Kikkoman plans to grow high-quality tomatoes high in sugar content at its greenhouse-like plant factory.

Japan's largest soy sauce maker believes such farming activities will help it expand profits, as agriculture has been included in the list of promising fields in the central government’s growth strategy, the sources said.

To get itself started, Kikkoman will purchase 49 per cent of issued stocks of Kazusa Tomato Garden, an agricultural production corporation that grows tomatoes at a plant factory in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, for about 5 million yen (US$50,700).

The company will use an about 3,300-square-metre plot of land at the Kazusa plant to cultivate tomatoes. It also plans to build a new 6,600-square-metre facility at the site in Spring.

The tomatoes, which are expected to be priced at about 50 per cent higher than ordinary tomatoes, will not be put on the market but sold directly to restaurants and other food-service businesses.

Kikkoman plans to grow vegetables if the tomato-growing business takes off. It aims to reach sales of 800 million yen in fiscal 2014 and 5 billion yen in fiscal 2020 from the business.


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