Food Company

The Food Company consists of three divisions: the Provisions Division, the Fresh Food Division, and the Food Products Marketing & Distribution Division. The goal of this division company is to become the leading company in the global food industry. Accordingly, the Food Company is developing a high value-added value chain that organically links customer-driven food resources development, food resources supply, product processing, midstream distribution, and retail on a global scale with a focus on Japan, China and Asia. Further, throughout that system, we are upgrading controls for food safety even further to ensure trust and reliability.

Sustainability Action Plans

Materiality SDGs Targets Issues to address Business area Commitment Specific approach Performance indicators
Reinvent businesses through technological innovation
Next-generation business Development Overall food-related businesses We will aim to improve productivity and efficiency by utilizing RPA and AI proactively. Introduce and utilize new technologies, especially in the sectors around retail that are facing a serious labor shortage, thereby maintaining social convenience. At the same time, disperse human resources to new services with the aim of further improving convenience in the consumer-related sector. FY2019: Start experimental operations that apply RPA and AI.
We will aim to create innovative services and new business by integrating assets and new technologies of the ITOCHU Group. Increase contact with consumers by promoting the retail business in our efforts to understand consumer behaviors, and combine the wide range of products, functions, and expertise of the Group to create unique new value that will be profitable for consumers and communal society. Promote the deployment of new products and new services through collaborations with the retail business operated by the ITOCHU Group.
Address climate change
Taking countermeasures against climate change Provisions Fresh foods We will reduce the impact of abnormal weather on the business with the aim of ensuring the stable supply of agricultural crops. Decentralize production areas by collaborating with Group companies. FY2021: Aim to develop other areas following the Philippines in the Fresh Produce Business.
Contribute to healthier and more enriched lifestyles
Supplying safe, secure food Overall food-related businesses We will select and concentrate on suppliers who are capable of manufacturing and supplying safe, secure food stably. Increase the number of persons with international certifications/qualifications related to judgment on the Food Safety Management System (FSMS) to enhance the capability of human resources for selecting suppliers. Proceed with the appropriate allocation of human resources as judges mentioned on the left to business departments, with the leading role played by the food safety management organization of ITOCHU Corporation.
  • Respect human rights
  • Ensure stable procurement and supply
Establishing a supply chain reflecting consideration for human rights and the environment Provisions We will establish a procurement system that conforms to third-party certification criteria and unique codes of conduct of manufacturers as our customers.
  • Start procuring coffee beans in Latin America in a way that conforms to the unique codes of conduct of manufacturers as our customers.
  • Participate in conferences of RSPO, a third-party certification body on palm oil, and start supplying RSPO-certified oil.
Proceed with discussions of targets for the sustainable procurement of palm oil by collaborating with the trading industry organization based on customers' situations and industry trends.

ESG related activities

Establishing a Stable Production System by Promoting Integration

Processing line

HYLIFE's vertically integrated system enables to manage the entire supply chain independetly. The supply chain includes compound feed production, hog raising, and pork processing.
As a result, the integrated strategy ensures stable supply of safe, secure, and high-quality products with a business model resilient to market price fluctuations. Aiming to further leverage these strengths over the medium to long term, the company has expanded its facilities, introducing technologies to partially automate pork processing, to increase production system efficiency and stability.

Towards sustainable farm operation that responds to climate change

Banana Field

In April 2013, ITOCHU acquired the Asia Fresh Food business and the Worldwide Packaged Food business of Dole Food Company, Inc., a U.S. company.

After the acquisition, typhoons, drought, diseases and insect damage, among other disasters, hit the Philippines, the leading production site of Dole's major products. As a result, the production volume of bananas was 440,000 tons in FY2017, down 40% from the level prior to the acquisition. To recover and increase the production volume of bananas, we took steps to improve productivity, including the introduction of irrigation equipment, consolidation and expansion of farms, and measures to combat disease and insect damage. We also improved the productivity of pineapples through equipment investment in farms and reviews of cultivation methods. We are diversifying the regions where we produce our products in order to mitigate the risk of bad weather and other problems. Meanwhile, we made management improvements, refined our business and product focus and disposed of underperforming businesses.

Moving forward, we will be ready to increase production in the Philippines to 800,000 tons of bananas and 1,000,000 tons of pineapples by FY2021, aiming to be the largest integrator of agricultural products in Asia.

In addition, based on its belief that people, environment, and society are the most important resources for the survival and development of a company, Dole spent more than 3.2 million dollars in 2017 on social contribution activities in the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, China, Thailand, North America and elsewhere. These activities included the donation of textbooks, desks, chairs, computers, and other equipment to dozens of schools in various places, the construction and maintenance of school buildings, the granting of scholarships, and the provision of educational opportunities for children with disabilities. The company also provided daily necessities and healthcare support to areas affected by natural disasters, and implemented initiatives for maintaining and promoting good health such as blood donations, hygiene education, and food aid.

Production of safe, secure, delicious pork meat

Pork meat processing process

ITOCHU Corporation holds a 49.9% share in HyLife Group Holdings Ltd. (hereafter, "HyLife"), which conducts the pork meat production business in Manitoba, Canada. HyLife undertakes integrated production covering live production, food mill, and pork processing. This enables the company to manage and coordinate the supply chain on its own. Taking advantage of this integrated production system, HyLife ensures the stable supply of safe, secure, high-quality products with established traceability. In addition, the integrated production system has enabled the individual needs of customers to be provided to hog farms, and HyLife has established a specialty program for providing customized products to the Japanese market. This program is highly evaluated in the market, and as a result, HyLife has become No.1 in Canada in the export of refrigerated pork meat to Japan. In the specialty program for Japan, under the supervision of its in-house nutritionists and veterinarians, HyLife produces hybrid hogs bred from three different breeds it has selected and gives them feed produced mainly from wheat and barley from Manitoba, which is a renowned production area of high-quality wheat and barley. The company undertakes comprehensive daily management and supervision of the processes by involving expatriates from ITOCHU Corporation.

Ensuring food safety through regular auditing of overseas suppliers

A food audit underway

Against a backdrop of increasingly diverse dietary lifestyles, the globalization of food distribution and increased awareness of health, consumers are taking an even greater interest in the safety and security of food. Meanwhile, incidents and problems have been occurring that threaten the safety and security of food, such as the BSE problem, violations of residue standards with pesticides and other substances and the distribution of foods using additives untested for safety. In FY2003, ITOCHU Corporation set up the Food Safety and Compliance Management Office and has since taken broad measures to ensure safety in the trading of food. Since FY2012, as part of these measures, ITOCHU has been regularly visiting and auditing food processing plants of overseas suppliers for imported food.
ITOCHU determines the subjects and frequency of audits in correspondence with various factors, including the management setup in the host country, product characteristics and sanitation risks in processing steps. Our employees, local staff and/or Group company employees make on-site visits to carry out audits based on our own Plant Audit Check Sheet and make proposals for improvements as necessary. In FY2018, we conducted on-site audits for 186 suppliers. In addition to these measures, in January 2015 we set up the China Food Safety Management Team in Beijing to bolster safety management on foods imported from China. We have dispatched dedicated Japanese staffs who are highly experienced in factory audits (ISO 22000 Lead Auditors accredited by IRCA*) in our efforts to create a management structure comparable to the one we have in operation in Japan. In addition to having several Chinese staff dedicated to conducting regular audits, we have increased the opportunities for mutual checks through follow-up audits and similar, thereby making continuous improvements. In FY2018, we conducted regular audits and follow-up audits of 54 companies, having increased the cumulative total to 100 companies.

Due to the recent revision to the Food Sanitation Act, hygiene control with HACCP is planned to be institutionalized. In accordance with the targets of control under the institution, we will plan to expand the subjects of the on-site audit in line with the food chain.

  • International Register of Certificated Auditors

Educational training programs related to food safety and compliance

We provide educational training programs related to food safety and compliance in the form of e-learning as part of our efforts to raise employees' awareness of food safety and legal compliance and improve their knowledge about these issues. We are also developing human resources for audits in response to the expansion of subjects of the on-site audit.

Main contents
  • Food safety
  • Compliance
  • Internal regulations / manuals
  • ESG
  • All of Food Company employees (including contract workers, temporary staff, seconded employees, accepted seconded employees.)
  • All of Food Management Support Corporation employees (Food Management Support Corporation is a Food Company's wholly owned subsidiary and performs back-office support for the Company.)
Number of participants 689 (FY2017), 699 (FY2018)
Participation rate 99.3% (FY2017), 99.9% (FY2018)

We will continue to provide training in FY2019 and onward, aiming to entrench the knowledge.

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