Responsibilities to Customers
Policy and Basic Concept
ITOCHU, which engages in multifaceted corporate activities in a wide range of fields in various regions around the world, believes that meeting the expectations of society through our business activities will maintain sustainability and lead to further growth.
ITOCHU has limited direct access to consumers in much of our business due to our characteristics as a trading company. Nevertheless, we recognize the importance of quality and safety management. We fulfill our responsibilities to customers by promoting initiatives to ensure this concept penetrates into the value chain.
ITOCHU complies with our obligations as stipulated in safety related laws and ordinances for the products we handle. We are striving to ensure safety by formulating product safety manuals for each company based on our policy of providing even safer products with greater peace of mind to our customers. We will continue to work on providing safe products with peace of mind in the future. We will do this while promoting internal education, setting up departments responsible for product safety, establishing information transmission routes and reviewing our response in the event a product accident does occur. For related initiatives, please refer to “Sustainable Procurement: Policies and Initiatives by Product Type”.
We engage in responsible advertising and marketing that fully takes into account our social responsibility. We do this under our Corporate Mission “Sampo-yoshi”, the ITOCHU Group Corporate Guideline of Conduct, “I am One with Infinite Missions,” and our Code of Ethic Conduct. We accept expectations and requests from society through two-way dialogue with stakeholders. We then put them into practice.
We have unified the visual image of ITOCHU to improve and ensure the penetration of our brand image to customers. Internal regulations have been developed to advertise and perform publicity with the appropriate expressions, content and media. We also give due consideration to slander, discriminatory expressions, exaggerations and false representations, religious and political beliefs, the environment, third party privacy, personal information and intellectual property rights. This is done in accordance with our sustainability policy. We promote appropriate advertising and publicity initiatives by sharing knowledge on advertising and publicity activities through regular meeting for our group companies.
We are thoroughly committed to creating content and expressions that do not cause misunderstanding and which do not infringe upon the rights, credibility and honor of others. This is done under relevant laws and ordinances, our internal regulations, various internal training programs and our company-wide compliance structure. We carry out responsible marketing activities by emphasizing dialogue with the various stakeholders around us in the diverse business activities we deploy on a global scale.
Safety of Food Products
The Food Company is engaging in food safety management based on the following mission and activity guidelines.
FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
- To contribute to the sound development of society while gaining strong trust from consumers
- To provide health and happiness to people by realizing rich food lifestyles through the stable supply of safe food
- To contribute to the interests of consumers, business partners, shareholders and employees through fair corporate activities
The following serve as the concrete activity guidelines to achieve our basic philosophy and mission. We comply with laws and ordinances and the ITOCHU Group corporate mission and code of ethical conduct. We then thoroughly inform all relevant employees in the Food Company about these. Upon doing that, we engage in food safety management and fair business which form the basis of trust from consumers.
The Food Safety and Compliance Management Office gives instructions and guidance on the above in the Food Company Group.
Responsible Food Business: Commitments and Policies
The ITOCHU Group aims to support people’s lives by providing various products and services. In doing so, we aim to ensure the best quality in our offerings by comprehensively managing the entire supply chain of our products and services, from the procurement of raw materials to the retailing of finished products. In keeping with this business approach, our Food Company consists of three divisions: the Provisions Division, the Fresh Food Division, and the Food Products Marketing & Distribution Division. The three divisions are designed to allow us to develop a value chain that caters to consumer needs, is ensured to add top-quality value, and seamlessly connects various processes, from the development of food resources, the supply of raw resources, production and processing, midstream distribution, and retail. Our Food Company synergizes these business aspects throughout the Japanese, Chinese, and greater Asian markets. At the same time, by continuously improving and refining our management and controls around food safety, we aim to become a leading company in the global food industry.
ITOCHU Group takes a market-oriented approach, incorporating the needs and expectations of the market and consumers as an integral part of our business model. Our food retailing business, which includes FamilyMart, is no exception. We first and foremost consider the needs of our customers, and based on key insights we draw from market and consumer trends, we build our strategy and approach. This allows us to build a value chain that adds value from the procurement and production of raw materials, to the development and manufacturing of products.
As for our food business, we identify the issues noted in the table below as material topics that especially require our careful management to provide safe and reliable food products. It is subsequently our policy to commit to addressing each of these issues.
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|Reducing Negative Product Impact of Food Products on Customers
Ensuring the safety of imported food products, processed foods, and fresh food produces (E.G.,Coping with biological, chemical and physical hazards)
|Responsible Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion of Food Products
Provision of information regarding food allergies and additives.
|Responsible Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion of Alcoholic Beverages
Provision of information regarding the prevention of drinking among persons under 20 years of age and pregnant women
Internal education programs on the liquor tax law
|Access to Better Nutrition
Providing nutritiously balanced solutions to the elderly
Cooperation with regional hospitals and nutritionist organizations
Improving Access to Better Nutrition
As part of its commitment to realize a high-value-adding business, one of our major concerns in the food business area is access to nutrition.
In developed countries, aging society is a pervasive issue. Elderly populations with unbalanced nutrition or lack of nutrition are increasing, straining medical budgets as well as caregivers. Furthermore, for conditions such as acute forms of diabetes and liver disease that require home care, there is a widespread need to secure nutrition balances that are healthy, nutritious, and prevent obesity.
At one of our subsidiaries, FamilyMart, we apply our unique ON/OFF approach to strengthen the development of ready-made meal that support health. ON represents products that provide (ON) the body with nutrition in the form of vegetables, lactic acid bacteria, and dietary fiber. Examples include products that use super barley and whole grains, which provide bountiful amounts of dietary fiber. On the other hand, we also offer products that reduce (OFF) certain ingredients, such as salt and sugar, without reducing the flavor of the product. These products have been highly popular with consumers looking for a balance of delicious taste and health.
Furthermore, we recognize that in developing countries, hunger and malnutrition are socially important issues caused by various elements including poverty. At ITOCHU Group, in order to take action in solving these issues we have implemented various initiatives. For example, we provide financial support to the World Food Programme (WFP) and working with Table for Two (TFT), which aims to alleviate the dietary inequality between developed and developing nations. In this way, we aim to provide high quality, nutritious food solutions to the children of developing countries.
Throughout the initiatives introduced above, we provide products and services and engage in community investment activities to support the nutrition and health of people in and out of Japan. We will commit to continuing these initiatives to enhance self-care, reduce medical expenditure, and provide healthy food options to children living in poverty, to contribute to solving issues of access to better nutrition among underprivileged groups.
Safety of Pharmaceuticals and Responsible Marketing
Pharmaceutical Quality and Safety
We contribute to the fulfillment of medical needs by delivering a stable supply of pharmaceutical raw materials and products at the level of quality required of pharmaceuticals. Additionally, we will satisfy latent medical needs by working on clinical development in new drug development to enable treatment of heretofore difficult-to-treat diseases. Our main market is Asia, including Japan, but we will also work on procurement and sales in Europe and the United States. We ensure safety in product supply and clinical development in accordance with Pharmaceuticals and Medical. Devices Act.
Pharmaceutical Ads and Labels
Final pharmaceutical products are sold only to licensed companies. We do not engage in advertising. We are taking necessary measures to ensure appropriate product labeling throughout the manufacturing and deployment process in legal compliance with the Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Products Including Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices.
Targets and Action Plan
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Structures and Systems
With the diversification of dietary habits, the globalization of food distribution, and a growing awareness regarding health issues, consumers are increasingly paying attention to the safety and security of their food. At the same time, there have been cases of incidents and problems threatening food safety, such as those regarding violation of food labeling standards, residual pesticides, and the distribution of foods using unauthorized additives. Our Food Company addresses these concerns and ensures measures are taken to prevent issues by establishing a quality control system overseen by its Food Safety and Compliance Management Office. That office is responsible for addressing the following issues:
- Advise to Company and their respective domestic and overseas subsidiaries in their initiatives to design a food safety self-management system.
- Management of the labeling and safety-related issues of our food products.
- Provision of education and training to employees regarding food safety.
- Provision of training to members of our food safety management team in China.
- Food safety audits and subsequent corrective guidance for subsidiaries and supplier factories.
In addition to the above, the Office is responsible for the management of compliance, trade and logistics, and environmental activities, occupational health and safety, and sustainability promotion.
Supplier Management Audits for our Food Business
Due Diligence for New Suppliers
When the Food Company conducts business with a new business partner, the Company is required to assess the potential supplier’s management level of the manufacturing process, and whether it has received certification recognized by GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative). In doing so, we use an internal assessment criteria that is designed to evaluate practices around food safety management.
Securing the Safety of Food through Regular Audits of Overseas Suppliers
ITOCHU established the Food Safety Management Office (now: Food Safety and Compliance Management Office) in the Food Company in FYE 2003. We are taking wide-ranging measures to ensure safety in the food business. As part of this, we have been conducting regular visits and audits of the food processing factories of overseas suppliers for imported processed food since FYE 2012.
The sales department is responsible for appointing an employee, local staff, or group subsidiary employee to perform site visits and audit the safety management system at least once a year. The frequency and timing as well as the specific sites subject to audits are agreed upon with the local factory, with consideration given to specific circumstances as the supplier’s local laws, management capability, product, and hygiene-related risks associated to the manufacturing process.
Auditors are required to reference a Plant Audit Check Sheet that we have originally devised, which incorporates elements of well-known international food safety standards such as Codex HACCP, ISO 22000, and FSSC 22000. Any points of improvement identified through the checklist are appropriately addressed, and necessary corrective measures are ensured to be communicated. In addition to the above, we set up a new China Food Safety Management Team in Beijing in January 2015. The aim of this is to strengthen the safety management of imported food. We have been dispatching a member of our Japanese staff with a wealth of practical experience in factory audits (IRCA* ISO 22000 auditor qualification holder) as a trainer. Through this, we have been building a management structure at a comparable level to that required in Japan. In addition to regular audits by Chinese supervisors, we are increasing opportunities for mutual confirmation through follow-up audits to ensure continuous improvement.
- International Register of Certificated Auditors
For overseas suppliers, our factory audit procedure and results are as follows:
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|Target and Frequency Settings
The responsible sales department and the Food Safety and Compliance Management Office determines the frequency of audits for each relatively high risk factory identified as a manufacturing plant for processed food, in accordance with laws and regulations of the relevant country. The decision of the audit frequency considers specific circumstances such as the supplier’s local laws, management capability, product, and hygiene-related risks associated to the manufacturing process.
|Conducting the Factory Audits
The sales department is responsible for appointing an employee, local staff, or group subsidiary employee to perform site visits and audit the safety management system periodically based on the frequency setting – over 300 relatively high risk plants are currently subject to these site visits.
|Issuing a Findings Report and Requesting Corrective Measures (as Per Necessary)
The final report must be created in line with the GFSI/Global Market Program factory audit framework (GMP + HACCP + management system + food defense).
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|Regular Audits (Number of Factories)
|Regular Audits and Follow-up Audits in China (Included in the Above Number of Audits)
Subsidiaries that have ISO22000 or FSSC22000 Certifications
Furthermore, we also ensure food-related safety among our direct subsidiaries by implementing a management system that aligns to well-known international frameworks on food safety, such as Codex HACCP, ISO22000, and FSSC22000.
- ITOCHU FEED MILLS CO., LTD.
- WELLNEO SUGAR Co., Ltd.
- SHOW-WA Co., Ltd.
- JAPAN NUTRITION Co., Ltd.
- FUJI OIL HOLDINGS INC.
- Prima Meat Packers, Ltd.
- DOLE ASIA HOLDINGS PTE. LTD.
- PT. ANEKA TUNA INDONESIA
- PT. ANEKA COFFEE INDUSTRY
- Provence Huiles S.A.S.
Staff Education and Training to Ensure Compliance to Responsible Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion Standards and Food Safety Standards
We provide e-learning as an education and training program to ensure responsible advertising, marketing, and promotion of food products, and compliance to food safety standards. We are looking to raise awareness and improve knowledge about responsible marketing, food safety, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations among employees. Furthermore, given the expansion of our food business and the subsequent increase in our auditing scope, we are also invested in training personnel capable of site audits.
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|Number of Trainees
We will continue to provide this education and training with the aim of ensuring that knowledge becomes reliably entrenched.
Participation in Food Safety-Related Initiatives and Organizations
At ITOCHU Group, we aim to maintain and enhance our quality management to ensure that we supply safe and reliable processed foods. In doing so, we make sure to cooperate with external parties and are members to industry groups in order to engage in knowledge sharing and collaboratively work toward enhanced solutions.
A group of concerned companies involved with importing, manufacturing, distribution, and sales formed ASIF in November 1988, beginning to work towards solving imported food safety issues. These activities led to the ASIF receiving permission from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in September 1992 to become an incorporated association. ASIF received authorization to become a public interest corporation on April 1st, 2011. ASIF is involved in a wide variety of activities to support food vendors in fulfilling the social responsibility of “delivering safe and secure imported foods.”
In order to promote food safety, the ITOCHU Group collects information on the safety of processed food and perishable food regarding imported food product – (e.g. Coping with biological, chemical and physical hazards) – from the Association for the Safety of Imported Food of Japan. This information is reflected in our voluntary food safety management system as well as our supplier food safety management system (which includes factory inspections and audit).
This association was established on November 1st, 1948 as a collaborative initiative between private companies in the food sector and administrative organizations regarding the food hygiene law in order to enhance self-regulation in the market. The establishment of the organization shortly followed the enactment of the food hygiene law in 1947, which was created to prevent any accidents or issues regarding eating and drinking, as well as improve public hygiene in Japan.
Ever since its establishment, the association has continued its initiatives to cooperate with organizations throughout Japan, and contribute to the enhancement of food safety and hygiene among private companies. The association participates in a wide range of purpose-led initiatives for public interest, and provides training regarding the self-regulation of food safety management, provides assessments and verifications of certain food products, promotes food sales legal liability insurance, holds seminars and events, issues and promotes food hygiene related books and reports, provides informative guidance to consumers, participated in international cooperation regarding food hygiene, and promotion of relevant research.
Based on advice received from the Japan Food Hygiene Association, the ITOCHU Group is taking necessary measures to continuously improve its food safety management system by identifying ways to improve food hygiene and our self-management system.
The Japan Food Additives Association (JAFA) was established in October 1982 with the Nippon Food Additives Group Leagues serving as the parent body to disseminate correct knowledge about food additives. It then transitioned to being a general incorporated association in April 2014. The association is engaged in various activities under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s Pharmaceutical Safety and Environmental Health Bureau. The aim of these activities is to seek a correct understanding from members about the manufacture, sale and use of food additives and from regular consumers about the safety and usefulness of food additives.
The ITOCHU Group collects information about food allergies and food additives through the JAFA. This information is useful in checking food labeling registration management rules and labels, improving the level of inspection management, and training personnel with qualifications in food labeling.
Quality Management in our Pharmaceutical Business
Pharmaceutical undertakings require sector-specific expertise and is therefore primarily handled by designated group companies. We implement quality control to ensure quality in accordance with the Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Products Including Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices. This includes, for example, assessing and confirming the quality of imported materials at our lab before it is sold.
Assessing Management Capabilities at our Pharmaceuticals-related Suppliers and Contributing to Improved Quality of Life (QOL)
Regular Site Visits for Foreign Suppliers
Not only do we implement quality control at our lab but we also visit our overseas suppliers regularly and perform inspections to make sure that the manufacturing process conforms to the Pharmaceuticals and Medical. Devices Act.
Contribution to Improving QOL in the Pharmaceutical Field
We contribute to controlling the rise of medical costs by providing a stable supply of raw materials for generic drugs. We will also invest in companies that develop regenerative medicines and new drugs to alleviate the side-effects of cancer and work to raise the level of future treatments and improve patient quality of life.
Initiatives to Support Socially Vulnerable Groups
Handling Plant-based Milk (Oat Milk and Almond Milk)
ITOCHU is developing oat milk and almond milk among the plant-based milk products made from beans, nuts and other plant ingredients.
Plant-based milk is becoming popular as an alternative to cow’s milk that can also be drunk by those with lactose intolerance who cannot digest lactose.
Oat milk and almond milk are especially healthy as they have lower fat and calories than cow’s milk. They contain lots of dietary fiber and go well with coffee. Therefore, demand is also growing for them in the United States and Europe.
Furthermore, they can contribute to a reduction in the environmental burden in terms of CO2 emissions, land and water usage compared to cow’s milk. They are sustainable ingredients characterized by the ability to store them at room temperature and their long best before dates.
ITOCHU is building a raw ingredient import and domestic manufacturing structure to widely deliver to consumers this nutritional, healthy and environmentally-friendly plant-based milk. We are also proposing development that includes product design.
One of the basic policies in ITOCHU’s Medium-term Management Plan is to contribute to and strengthen initiatives for SDGs. We will also proactively promote the development of plant-based milk in the future with a target of handling 5,000 tons of it in FYE 2026.
CP Foods (CPF): Handling of Plant-Based Foods
Plant-based foods are foods made from soybean, peas, wheat and other plant-based ingredients that reproduce the flavor and texture of animal-based foods (hamburger patties, nuggets and other meat products, cheese, butter and other dairy products, and tuna and other seafood products, etc.).
These foods are attracting attention for various reasons. Many plant-based food products contain less fat than animal-based products. Plant-based foods are ingredients which may solve the issue in modern society in that animal-based protein is expected to be in short supply for the entire population in the future. Furthermore, plant-based foods can contribute to reducing the environmental burden in terms of CO2 emissions, land and water usage compared to animal-based foods.
We are working on the development of Meat Zero plant-based food products jointly with CPF that is a core company in the CP Group and one of the major suppliers of the Food Company. We are doing this so that we can also proactively promote plant-based foods with the above characteristics. We started selling chicken nuggets, hamburger patties and meat sauce in Thailand under the Meat Zero brand name in May 2021. We use the soy protein of the FUJI OIL company in our Group for some of the ingredients. We also utilize the knowledge of the ITOCHU Group to reproduce the look, texture and taste of real meat.
Thailand CPF has announced it is aiming to become the top brand in Asia and one of the top three brands in the world for meat substitute brands by 2026. In addition to the products we have jointly developed with CPF, ITOCHU is also proactively promoting and developing other products. Combined with the Try Veggie series (Prima Meat Packers) developed within in our Group, we are aiming to handle 10,000 tons of plant-based foods by 2025.
At one of our subsidiaries, FamilyMart, we engage in food retailing that first and foremost values the local community’s needs. This means that we highly value the contributions we can make to socially vulnerable groups, and implement measures to address this issue throughout the FamilyMart business such as in the following ways.
Preventing the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco to Persons Under 20
FamilyMart sells alcoholic beverages and tobacco. We thoroughly prevent the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco to persons under 20 years of age as a responsible business operator and as a response based on the Safety Station Activities Charter (Initiative to Improve the Environment for Youths) of the Japan Franchise Association to which FamilyMart belongs. We have created a Guidebook for Compliance with Laws and Regulations Concerning the Sale of Alcohol and Tobacco. This guidebook summarizes the matters which should be complied with when advertising, publicizing and selling alcohol and tobacco, and the method of educating employees. It is based on the concept that drinking alcohol under 20 years of age leads to the risk of developing acute alcohol addiction or alcohol dependence in the future. Furthermore, we provide the following education and awareness campaigns to company and franchise store employees and give warnings to customers. These efforts allow us to thoroughly ensure we do not sell alcohol and tobacco to persons under 20 years of age.
1. Warning to Customers
We give warnings to customers about the sale of alcohol and tobacco. We display products in the alcoholic beverages section so they can be recognized as such. In addition, we put up posters and sales promotional materials stating we will not sell alcoholic beverages to those whom we cannot confirm to be at least 20 years old.
Every week, store managers and supervisors in charge of sales guidance verify whether legally mandated display of alcoholic beverages at the store and their classifications are carried out properly and confirms the presence of posters and other items that prohibit persons under 20 years of age from drinking and smoking.
2. Age Verification at the Register
In July 2017, we changed the cashier program so that when alcohol and tobacco products are scanned at the cash register, messages are displayed on the cash register screens of both store staff and customers at the same time as voice guidance to alert store staff and facilitate age verification of customers.
3. Training of Store Staff
We have created the Age Confirmation Guidelines and the Alcohol and Tobacco Sales Training Program to provide training to all employees working in our stores on the identification of alcohol and tobacco products and on the age-verification procedures at cash registers. When hiring employees who will operate cash registers, they receive training through the Alcohol and Tobacco Sales Training Program before serving customers. Additionally, they undergo Alcohol and Tobacco Sales Training twice a year (first half and second half of the year). Upon completion of the training program, we prepare a “Record of Alcohol and Tobacco Sales Training Implementation.” This record is confirmed by the store manager and supervisor.
4. Advertising and Promotion of Private Brand Alcoholic Beverages
We label alcoholic beverages in the Famimaru private brand of FamilyMart based on the Voluntary Code for the Advertising and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages and the Labeling of Alcoholic Beverage Containers established by the Japan Liquor Industry Council. Furthermore, FamilyMart stores which handle alcoholic beverages also handle non-alcoholic beverages as an alternative to alcoholic beverages for customers who are 20 years of age or older.
Development and Provision of Products and Services that Promote Health and Eliminate Negative Impacts
In an increasingly aging society, the demand for medical budgets and caregivers is rapidly increasing, becoming pervasive social issue in Japan. In light of this social issue, FamilyMart proactively sells products and services aimed at supporting the health of its customers. These initiatives aim to support the enhancement of healthy diets among customers, increase a self-care mindset among community members, and reduce medical expenditures. Furthermore, FamilyMart is developing products based on the concepts of “ON (plus)” and “OFF (suppression)”: health appealing products that add vegetables, dietary fiber, etc. to the body, and health support products that eliminate specific ingredients, such as low-sugar products and low-salt products, from a health-conscious perspective without losing their flavor.
1. A Product That Promotes Health by Adding Vegetables, Dietary Fiber, etc., to the Body
Cumulative sales of food products containing super barley exceed 200 million meals (December 2021): We have sold food products containing the BARLEYmax® (hereinafter “Super Barley”) functional food ingredient since 2017. Cumulative sales of Super Barley have exceeded 200 million meals (as of the end of December 2021).
Furthermore, we started selling new products made with Super Barley such as Super Omugi-iri Daizu Meat Soboro / Tamago / Iwashita-no Shinshouga-iri (minced soy meat, egg and Iwashita sweet-sour pickled young ginger rice balls containing Super Barley) since January 2022. These rice balls contain MCT oil that is much talked about among those with a high health consciousness and the high-protein soy meat food product.
Super Barley contains about two times as much dietary fiber as regular barley and about seven times as much brown rice. It is possible to consume medium-chain fatty acids widely used in training and medical sites as a high-quality energy from MCT oil. Meanwhile, vegetable protein and dietary fiber can be consumed from soy meat. We provide products which support the PFC balance* of Japanese people that tends to be upset due to excessive sugar and a lack of protein as affordable rice ball products.
- PFC balance: This refers to the balance of consuming the three major nutrients of protein, fat and carbohydrates. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has set target amounts for these to prevent the onset of lifestyle-related diseases and their aggravation.
Products Using Soy Meat: In January and June 2021, FamilyMart stores nationwide launched a total of nine products using soy meat across Japan. Soy meat has been attracting an increasing interest in recent years as next-generation meat. FamilyMart has been releasing products made with soy meat since April 2017. These have received a great deal of support mainly from health-conscious customers. With the spread of new lifestyles due to the impact of the new coronavirus and the change in awareness of environmental issues due to the growing focus on the SDGs, there has been a change in our daily dietary habits. In addition, interest in health-conscious and ethical products is rising. Above all, soybean meat, a processed soybean food, is attracting attention as an ingredient that takes into consideration the environment, health, and various food cultures. In addition, soybean is an ingredient rich in nutrients such as vegetable proteins; it is even called “the meat of the fields.” The demand for vegetable protein is increasing year by year due to the fact that it has less of an environmental impact in terms of water and energy required for growth compared to meat.
2. Nutritionally-balanced Health Support Products That Suppress Specific Ingredients, Such as Low-salt Products, from a Health-conscious Perspective without Losing Flavor
- First convenience store to sell products certified by the Smart Meal Certification*: Aburiyaki Shake Makunouchi Bento (a boxed lunch containing grilled salmon) sold on a reservation basis received Smart Meal Certification – a first for a convenience store – as a nutritionally balanced meal in August 2018. Furthermore, Ajiwai Gozen (a boxed lunch) released in February 2019 has also been praised for its great balance of nine side dishes that take into consideration carbohydrates, fat, and protein. This has led to it being our second product to receive Smart Meal Certification.
- This certification scheme is managed by the Healthy Food and Food Environment Consortium, which is composed of 13 academic organizations that specialize in health-related issues such as nutrition, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
- “Low-salt Japanese-style Dressing” won the first Gold Prize at a convenience store: Our Reduced-Salt Japanese-Style Dressing in a small-pouch form sold separately from salads was awarded the Gold Prize at the Fifth JSH Reduced-Salt Food Products Awards (sponsored by the Salt Reduction Committee of the Japanese Society of Hypertension). It was the first time for a convenience store to win the Gold Prize. Since its launch, the dressing has been supported by many customers, as a product with 25% less salt* while retaining the rich flavor that brings out the taste of vegetables.
- Contains 25% less sodium than standard Japanese-style dressing based on Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan - 2020 - (Eighth Revised Edition).
Please refer to the FamilyMart Co., Ltd. Sustainability Site (Providing Products and Services that Enrich Lives) for details of the above initiatives.
Food Safety and Reliability
At FamilyMart, we aim to provide ready-made meal such as rice balls, sushi, boxed lunches, delicatessen dishes, salad, and sandwiches that ensure safety and reliability for our customers. To achieve this, we have voluntarily enhanced our safety and quality requirements to build upon what is legally required. Throughout every each process of production, from procurement of raw materials and manufacturing to the logistics and sales of products, we make it mandatory to follow these strict requirements and have implemented support systems to ensure that this can be sustained. We also especially value the continuous improvement of hygiene management among contracted manufacturing factories for our ready-made meal and are implemented measures accordingly. Moreover, we are also invested in reducing additives in our food products and aim to ensure that the safety and reliability of our products are at a high level.
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|Manufacturing and Quality Control
Community Engagement for a Brighter Future
As a member of the Japan Franchise Association, FamilyMart has been promoting the Safety Station Activities, an activity to help protect the safety of local communities, since 2000. This activity was launched by the National Police Agency, where initiatives, such as anti-crime measures, disaster prevention, safety measures, a thorough prohibition against the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to people underage to urge those people to go home at late night, are actively promoted in collaboration with the government, municipalities, and community people. As part of our Safety Station activities, we also provide protection to vulnerable groups such as children, women, and the elderly in case of emergencies, and provide guidance and support for youths to build an inclusive community.
Furthermore, at our stores, we also set up donation boxes as part of an initiative to contribute to the protection and development of future generations, as well as preserving the natural environment for these future generations.
Achieving Well-being by Opening Up the Power and Potential of Sugar
At WELLNEO SUGAR Co., Ltd. we leverage the amazing properties of sugar, a natural plant-based food substance, to provide consumers with high-quality products that are both safe and worry-free.
ITOCHU Sugar Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of ours, is engaged in the production and sale of Kururu no Oishii Origoto, which is made from fructooligosaccharides derived from domestic sugar beets, as well as Okinawa & Amami Kibi Origo, which is made from fructooligosaccharides derived from domestic sugarcane. Fructooligosaccharides, which are known as prebiotics, reach the large intestine after ingestion without being digested and serve as a source of nutrients for intestinal bifidobacteria and other bacteria, thereby maintaining a good intestinal environment.
Development and Provision of Products and Services that Promote Health and Eliminate Negative Impacts
The FUJI OIL Group, one of our Group companies, develops products that promote consumers’ health. At the same time, it develops products and services that eliminate negative impacts.
1. Initiatives to Reduce Trans-fatty Acid Content
The FUJI OIL Group started efforts to reduce trans fatty acids generated in the production of processed foods, as it was found that they increase the risk of heart disease. We are promoting research and commercialization of low-trans-fatty acid fats and oils using techniques such as transesterification which does not generate trans-fatty acids at the time of manufacturing.
Our initiatives to commercialize low- and non-trans acid oils and fats for chocolate and margarine production can contribute to providing delicious and healthy food ingredients for our customers and consumers in general. Under the supervision of the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), we are promoting initiatives to reduce the trans-fatty acid content of our products, and plan to complete the reduction of trans-fatty acid content in all of our products to the WHO recommended level by 2023. Moreover, from FYE 2021, the Sustainability Committee(renamed from the ESG Committee),* which is an advisory body to the Board of Directors, confirms the progress and results of these initiatives as a priority theme（materiality） for ESG management.
- Refer to the URL below for details of the ESG Committee.
- Reference: Targets, Performance and Progress in Product Improvement
2. Reduced Sugar Chocolate
Initiatives to eliminate excessive consumption of sugar to prevent obesity and lifestyle-related diseases are attracting worldwide attention. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) published guidelines in 2015 recommending the daily sugar intake of adults and minors to be kept to less than 10% of daily energy intake.
The strength of the FUJI OIL Group lies in its research on vegetable protein ingredients which can serve as a substitute for some sugars as a B-to-B food ingredient manufacturer. The FUJI OIL Group is also developing and promoting the sale of sugar-free chocolate made without using sugar.
Proactive Provision and R&D for Products Pursuing Good Health and Delicious Taste
As people become highly conscious of their health and lifestyle habits, more and more people are becoming concerned about consuming too much salt and sugar. Salt provides the effects of flavoring and improving shelf life, and reducing salt content will ruin those effects. A group company of ours, Prima Meat Packers, Ltd., has been conducting research and development for many years. The company has developed loin ham and bacon products with 30% less salt content and sugar-free while maintaining their taste and shelf life. These health-conscious products are sold under the Prima Healthy brand to make them easily identifiable and have been well-received in the market.
Initiatives to Ensure Responsible Labeling
The Food Company operates a food label registration management guideline, which provides a detailed framework for us to responsibly label our food products. To ensure compliance to the guidelines, we also provide training to staff that belong to relevant sales divisions and the Food Safety and Compliance Team. The training aims to enhance our staff’s understanding of the food label registration management guidelines and their capability to conduct inspections and checks on appropriate food labeling. Given increasing importance for this issue and the increasing size of our food business, we are also aiming to leverage this training to increase the number of food labeling practitioners certified by the Food Labeling Certification Association, a Japanese industry organization. In this way, we maintain the necessary internal capacity to cooperate with specialized third party organizations to ensure compliance to our guidelines as well as legal requirements.
At FamilyMart, the responsible labeling of processed foods is especially important as our customers widely vary. For example, we recognize that we must ensure the safety of anyone with food allergies, and prevent the excessive intake of certain substances that can have heavy health consequences. In addition to the information we are required by law to give on the labels on the private-brand products sold at FamilyMart, we list a total of 28 items on the allergy labeling: the seven items mandated to be labeled by law plus 21 items recommended for labeling. We do this so that customers can purchase products with peace of mind. Furthermore, we also provide information that we believe our customers would like to know when choosing products (e.g., ingredients, nutritional ingredients, and preservation methods).
With regard to processed food and alcohol, we especially make sure that responsible labeling is thoroughly addressed. For example, we have implemented measures to simplify and clarify the warnings related to alcohol poisoning, alcoholism, and drinking under 20 years of age.
Involvement in Industry Initiatives to Ensure the Safety of Alcohol Consumption
It is important to our business that we thoroughly address issues regarding the potential negative impacts of alcoholic products such as alcoholism, alcohol poisoning, and drinking under 20 years of age. We also recognize that these negative impacts are also especially important with regard to vulnerable groups. Therefore, our subsidiaries that sell alcoholic products are members to industry organizations introduced below, in order to participate in knowledge sharing and be in tune with the latest market trends and best practices.
Tokyo Alcohol Wholesale Cooperative is an organization with corporate members that participate in the alcohol business, aims to elevate the level of social responsibility associated to acquiring an alcohol permit. For example, the organization promotes legal compliance, engages in awareness raising of the negative social impacts that must be managed across various product types, leads initiatives to maintain cultural traditions around alcohol, leads initiatives to enhance the current culture around appropriate amounts of alcohol consumption, and supports companies in achieving sustainable business models. Throughout these activities, the Tokyo Alcohol Wholesale Cooperative contributes to the health and wellbeing of the Japanese population, and promotes market competition that is fair and complies with high standards. The Cooperative highly values harmonious cooperation among member companies, and has supported the sustained management of businesses throughout the industry and has subsequently led the development of the industry in general. NIPPON ACCESS, INC. and ITOCHU SHOKUHIN Co., Ltd., ITOCHU subsidiaries, are members of this cooperative.
Contributive Initiatives to Alleviate Hunger and Poverty in Developing Countries
World Food Programme (WFP)
We have become a supporter contributor of the Japan Association for the World Food Programme. This is an official support organization of the World Food Programme (WFP) – a United Nations organization to provide food support. The aim of our participation is to eliminate world hunger and poverty problems as much as possible. We support various activities through this scheme.
In May 2022, we supported WFP’s child hunger eradication campaign called "Walk the World." The annual global walk aims to raise awareness and funds, as well as encourage action to end child hunger. This campaign was held in Yokohama, Nagoya and Osaka. Approximately 200 employees of ITOCHU Corporation and ITOCHU Group companies, including their family members, participated in the event.
Eliminating the Food Imbalance between Developing Countries and Advanced Countries: Table for Two
Table for Two is an international NPO that was founded by an affiliate of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders. The organization aims to right the imbalance between the 1 billion people in the world who suffer from undernutrition, and the 1 billion people in the world who suffer from obesity. The organization does so by implementing a “calorie transfer” program, where the organization partners with companies, universities, restaurants, and organizations throughout the world to provide more nutritious school meals to the former, and healthier meals to the latter.
Table for Two was founded in Japan in October 2007. Owing to ITOCHU’s long –standing commitment to social contribution, we were one of the first companies in Japan to partner with Table for Two and implement the calorie transfer program in our employee cafeteria at the Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya offices the following April.
More specifically, whenever one of our employees chooses a healthier TFT meal from our cafeteria menu, 20JPY is donated per meal. In addition, through a matching gift scheme, the company also donates the same amount of money as the employee, making the total donation 40JPY per meal. The donation contributes to providing nutritious school meals to children in developing countries.
Currently, our Tokyo Headquarters provides TFT meals.