Toukai Fish Fillets was headed for doomsday.
There were dead stocks of red fish, capelin and greenlings.
The stocks of these were huge, since Toukai Fish Fillets were
fated to meet the annual demand of supermarkets.
Financial results were showing a surplus but this was only
to save Toukai Fish Fillets' face towards Nissho Iwai and the
banks that supported Toukai Fish Fillets. The accounts were
phony, by estimating stocks more expensive than actual market
Frozen red fish, which were raw material for red fish
pickles, had lost its red colour because of the long time holding.
Reddish colour was very important for red fish sales, so this
had lessened to a large amount of the value.
Over and under size capelin that supermarkets do not prefer
to buy were over stocked and piled up deep inside the refrige-
rators, collecting dust.
Greenlings, purchased because of the cheap price was to
create, hopefully, big profits, but the fish were too skinny.
The price was so cheap that Toukai Fish Fillets resold it to
close business relationships, and bought it back again, earning
profit on the way. This trading was done inside a refrigerator
without moving the fish for delivery at all. After the profit
was put on the account, the cost of the fish had become so
extremely expensive, that it was impossible to sell anymore.
For these greenlings, there was no alternative to being dead
stock. The management of the stock was bad in that the
numbers and grades were uncertain.
Something had to be done to get the wheels on the road
One thing considered was to sell fish to the wholesale
market again. It was actually put into action by using Europian
herring as the raw material of the items to sell.
Dutch herring that were medium in size, were imported
and processed to soy sauce pickles and sold to supermarkets.
Norwegian herring were large in size. They were imported,
graded into male and female herring and the male herring were
gutted, salted, dried, and sold as "One Night Dried Salted
Herring." Female herring were sold fresh under the name of
"Defrosted Female Herring With Roe."
The good thing about the Europian herring was that the
size grading was severe. The small appearance of off grade
herring was a point taken advantage of, in the case of selling
to supermarkets. Usually, supermarkets buy only one item,
one grade for one kind of fish.
The fresh female herring was spotlighted by supermarkets
because of the value of the roe in the fish. Some supermarkets
decided to put the item on their order books.
By the way, times had changed in a certain way, and the
whole Japanese business world had already entered the age of
the so-called, "Small lots, many kinds." That was a way to
cynically describe, a typical situation in the Japanese business
that occurred very often those days. It explained the situation
of producers having to produce many kinds of items to meet
the consumers' delicate needs, compared to the mass
production that had been taking place in the days before.
In relation to that, a certain buyer of a supermarket said,
"Today, items of fish are almost the same as talents in the
show business. There are millions of supposed-to-be talents
and most of them disappear unknown to the public: even so,
there still are a lot to debut but they also disappear in a very
short time. There seems to be no one who makes her or his
way to stardom these days."
Even if registered on the supermarket's order book, the
small consumption of the one-of-the-many items would lead
the item to be cancelled from registration. This cancellation
would be done quickly, with no exception, since the manage-
ment was watched and checked continuously by systems like
P.O.S. (point of sales).
The business with supermarkets was changing in other
ways too. Supermarkets pressed on to lessen the lead time
between order and delivery. As a result, producers had to
anticipate the amounts of orders coming in. And since non-
delivery was a must to be avoided, the producers were always
forced to make a little bit more than the expected order. It was
the same case in selling "Defrosted Female Herring With Roe."
The problem was how to sell the surplus that would remain
as a result.
Perishable fresh fish had to be sold as soon as possible. A
customer had to be found.
In this kind of situation, shipping to the wholesale market
seemed to be the easiest and fastest solution. You could ship
as much as you wanted if you didn't care about the prices.
So, Toukai Fish Fillets that once ran away from the sales
of the wholesale market to avoid the bargaining, came back to
the scene again.
I was placed in charge of the sales of the Norwegian herring
At the office in Nest-duck, production reports came from
processing plants on facsimile. Supermarket orders came by
computer-on-lines. At first, the supermarket orders were set
to be delivered. After that, the amount of the orders were
substracted from the whole total, and what was left were all
shipped to wholesale markets throughout the country.
From the experience of selling ATC's salted red salmon at
Touto Marine Products, I believed that this Norwegian herring
would become established as a long-selling item in Japan, if I
could sell them carefully, not letting the market prices fall
down: even though only officially.
As a matter of fact, orders from supermarkets increased
and so did those from wholesale markets. I would say that it
was because I hung on to the principle to sell-out the products
everyday, which was the only way to promise the freshness.
Although, the total volume of this sales was too small so that
it wasn't good enough to improve the financial situation of
Toukai Fish Fillets.