Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No. 7: Integration of production seems to grow widespread: Meiji’s case (October 20, 2011)

Meiji Holdings will build a new plant for the production of dairy products and confectionery with an investment of more than 10 billion yen. The plant is scheduled to go into operation in 2016. The company integrated the food division in April this year, but this alone was not enough to cope with the dwindling domestic food market.
The construction of the new plant shows the company’s determination to accelerate the restructuring of the organization for effective response to dwindling birthrate and an aging population. The company plans to develop new high-value added products that utilize the accumulated technology and marketing know-how in dairy products and confectionery.

The Japanese food industry is not successful in solving problems with supply glut. Most processed foods are used for special sales events, and Japanese food companies are inferior to European food companies in the profit-earning ratio. According to the government statistics, Japan has about 19,000 food companies in 2009, only 7% drop from 1999. In contrast, the food and confectionery market decreased 1.5% to about 3,208 billion yen in 2010. Milk consumption decreased to about 30% to 580 billion yen in 2010. It is an urgent task for every food and confectionery company to find solutions to solve the demand and supply gap.   

Monday, October 10, 2011

No. 6: From building a house to renovating a house (October 10, 2011)

The household appliance industry keeps close watch on the development of housing. The average number of a household was 4.1 people 50 years ago, while it is merely 2.5 people at present. Single households and two-people households have a combined share of more than 60% of all households in Japan. Life inside a house is changing.

The number of houses mattered most in the period of high economic. Numerous housing complexes were built to satisfy the increasing population in the high economic growth period. In the days of dwindling birthrate and aging population, however, people naturally place importance on the interior of a house and rethink what roles a house should play for the future. Ongoing research on smart house and eco house aiming at reducing energy consumption facilitates these trends. An electric vehicle is a storage battery as much as it is a means of transport.

You have to take off your shoes when you enter a Japanese house, and this practice is rather strange for foreign people. However, it is creating lots of business opportunities. For example, when you walk on a floor carpet without shoes, you can give various kinds of information on your body, such as pulse, blood pressure, weight, and body temperature, directly to the floor carpet through your soles, and a sensor in the floor carpet transmits such pieces of information to a hospital automatically for health checkup. Lighting fixtures can be part of a ceiling, while information equipment like TV can be part of a wall.

Traditionally, a Japanese house can be characterized by aesthetic feeling based on harmony. This can be found in the tea ceremony and traditional flower arrangement. In addition, the door of each house faces the street to enhance the communication with neighbors on the street. As the aging society develops, renovating a house increases the presence at a market because the aged have enough financial resource to renovate their houses to their satisfaction.