NIPPON MEAT PACKERS, INC. History
Telephone: (06) 282-3031
Sales: ¥529.29 billion (US$4.23 billion)
Stock Index: Tokyo Osaka Luxembourg Paris
Nippon Meat Packers is one of Japan's leading processors of packaged hams, chicken, seafood, and sausages, marketing popular Japanese brands such as Chicken Nugget, Swift, and Schau Schinken.
In March, 1942, just a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, president and founder of Nippon Meat Packers, Yoshinori Okoso, started in the meat business by establishing the Tokushima Meat Processing Factory in Tokushima. After seven years of producing hams and sausages, Okoso founded the Tokushima Ham Company, the forerunner to Nippon Meat Packers.
Supplies of genuine pork were scarce during World War II and on into the 1950s. As a result, the company often used rabbit and fish meat for their hams and sausages. Despite the hardships of short supply, the company's growth remained steady through the 1950s, marked in 1956 by the construction of the company's Osaka plant.
Pork shortages persisted into the 1960s, when mutton was used as a pork substitute. The company continued to grow, and by 1960, it began offering shares on the Osaka stock exchange. Two years later, the company appeared on the second section of the stock exchange in Tokyo, and in 1967, the company was promoted to the first sections of both the Tokyo and Osaka exchanges.
Growth in the 1960s came through the founding of new companies and links with existing ones. In 1963, the year the company adopted its present name, Nippon Meat Packers, the Torise Ham Company became an affiliate. Five years later, the company founded Nippon Broilers Company, a production and breeding facility for pigs and broiler chickens. The company has since set up similar facilities such as the Japan Farm, Kyushu Farm, Shiretoko Farm, and Tohoku Farm. In 1969, Nippon Meat Packers entered into business with Swift & Company, of the United States, one of the largest meat producers in the world at that time. The association lead to the sale of Swift brand hams and sausages in the Japanese market.
Also in 1969, Nippon Meat Packers established one of its most important product-development tools, the Housewives Directors Group. The group gathers opinions and complaints from women regarding the taste, price, packaging, and advertisement of Nippon Meat Packers' products. The organization helped the company produce big sellers such as Bun-ta-ta sausages, Winny skinless wieners, and Swift Loaf.
The early 1970s were a time of diversification for Nippon Meat Packers. In 1970, the company founded a school known as the Nippon Meat Academy. In 1973, the company entered the food service business with the founding of its John Bull restaurant which it opened as a way of collecting product information and introducing new recipes. It soon opened other restaurants including Berni Inn, a combined pub and steak house; Yashiro, a shabu shabu restaurant; and Schau Essen Haus, a German-style pub.
Besides branching into restaurants, the company entered professional sports with the founding of the Nippon-Ham Fighters baseball club. Investment in the baseball team proved a successful advertising vehicle for both the company and the ham industry in Japan.
In the later 1970s, Nippon Meat Packers began taking global interests. In 1976, the company issued 7.5 million Continental Depositary Receipts on the stock exchange in Luxembourg. The following year, in 1977, the company founded Day-Lee Meats, in Los Angeles. Since then, Nippon Meat Packers has set up affiliates in Australia, Singapore, England, and Canada.
The 1980s were marked by continued growth and the introduction of several successful lines of meat. In 1981, the company introduced thin-sliced ham. Only half a millimeter thick, the product became one of the company's biggest sellers in the ham market and even won the Nihon Keizai Shimbun's (Japan's business newspaper) award for "Superior Product of the Year" in 1982.
Growth in production and development continued in 1986, with a new production plant at Shizuoka and a new research center in the Ibaraki plant. The facilities improved the company's technology and processing capabilities. Also in 1986, Nippon Meat Packers introduced its highly successful raw ham products known as Schau Schinken.
Nippon Meat Packers' production extended into western Japan in 1987, with the establishment of the Hyogo Polka plant.
The company continues to grow both by adding processing facilities and introducing new food lines. In 1988 alone, the company introduced three new products: the Essen Burg, Mini Polka, and Lemon Chicken.
Introducing new meats and meat products to the Japanese diet has made Nippon Meat packers one of the country's top food producers and put Nippon Meat Packers in a strong position to grow with the meat industry in Japan.
Principal Subsidiaries: Day-Lee Meats, Inc. (U.S.A.); Nippon Meat Packers Australia Pty. Ltd.; Nippon Meat Packers Singapore Pte. Ltd.; Nippon Meat Packers U.K. Ltd.; Nippon Meat Packers Canada Ltd.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol. 2. St. James Press, 1990.