TOKYO -- Japanese seafood company Nippon Suisan Kaisha, also known as Nissui, will upgrade a fish-processing factory in the U.S. state of Alaska in an effort to bolster its core business.
A $21 million makeover will be implemented from this year through 2017 at U.S. subsidiary UniSea's plant in Dutch Harbor. The factory on the Bering Sea coast processes locally caught crab and whitefish to make "surimi," or fish paste, and other products.
The first step in the project is to renew aging docks for safety. Next, three processing facilities on the factory's premises will be consolidated and production lines will be rearranged for logistics efficiency.
The factory will handle more processed whitefish products. It will also conduct quick-freezing of raw seafood, with a dedicated workspace added for extracting blood from crabs before they are frozen. Currently, the plant chiefly handles parboiled items.
Surimi is growing popular in many markets, with Chinese consumers using it for fish balls. In the U.S. and Europe, diners are tossing imitation crab meat, which is made from surimi, on their salads. Americans are also eating more processed seafood as they grow health-conscious, Nissui says. The company sees solid demand going forward amid global population growth.
UniSea owns factories in dozens of countries, including France, Brazil and Thailand, and ships products to Japan, the U.S., Europe and China.
Nissui seeks to lift sales in the maritime products business to 288 billion yen ($2.4 billion) by fiscal 2017, up 10% from fiscal 2014.