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Japan-Update

Mitsui plants seeds to lift output of 'super onion'

Japanese trading house targets health-conscious consumers

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Mitsui seeks to attract health-conscious consumers with its "super onion."   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Trading house Mitsui & Co. will boost production of what it calls a "super onion" packed with health benefits.

Mitsui's Sarasara Gold brand of onion, now grown on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, is said to contain double to triple the amount of quercetin, a type of polyphenol, compared with onions grown on the main island of Honshu.

The Japanese company aims to raise output from 400 tons last year to 800 tons by around 2018.

Mitsui will begin imports from contract farms in Australia and New Zealand on a trial basis as early as this month, with plans to harvest 200 to 300 tons from those countries in spring 2018. In Japan, Mitsui will procure 500 to 600 tons from Hokkaido's Kitami city in fall 2017, tapping the region that leads the nation in production. The trading house looks to increase the number of contract farms in the region to 15 from 13 now.

The brand is priced a little higher than common varieties, with its suggested retail price of around 300 yen for a pack of three, but Mitsui thinks the onion will attract health-conscious consumers.

Mitsui hopes to provide stable year-round supplies of the brand to supermarkets by taking advantage of differing harvest seasons in Japan and abroad. The trading house aims for annual production volume of 3,000 tons and sales of 700 million yen ($6.23 million) in the medium to long term.

(Nikkei)

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