Noah Brier | April 25, 2022

The Executive Edition (4/24/22)

On sushi, corporate identity, and the FT's David Gardner

Sushi Sunday

Went back this week and read the excellent 2007 Vanity Fair piece from Nick Tosches on the Tsukiji fish market and the global sushi trade.

But as I said, tuna will always be the main event. The bluefin tuna, which can grow to more than 1,500 pounds and almost 12 feet in length, is a migratory fish that can be found in many parts of the world. According to Tsunenori Iida, the source of the best and most costly bluefin changes from season to season. In the winter, the most prized tuna is from the waters of northern Japan, near Oma and Hokkaido. But in the summer it is from the northeastern waters of the United States. This wasn't known in Japan until the summer of 1972, when the first such tuna was successfully brought fresh by air to Tokyo for sale at Tsukiji. (An account of the events leading up to that first successful tuna flight can be found in Sasha Issenberg's book.) Since then, fishers off the New England coast have seen the value of what used to be cat food rise to tens of thousands of dollars for a single fish. That's a lot of Puss 'n Boots.

And if you need a chaser, last year’s NYT Mag “Untold Story of Sushi in America” explores the role of Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his church in the global fish trade. 

According to Robert Bleu, the president of its parent conglomerate, the True World Group, in its current fiscal year True World Foods has sold to more than 8,300 clients in the United States and Canada, overwhelmingly sushi restaurants. Its Japanese subsidiary is on track to export more than a million kilograms of fresh fish to the United States in 2021. In many cities, Bleu says, True World sells to between 70 and 80 percent of midrange and high-end sushi restaurants; the group’s annual revenues typically exceed $500 million. The pandemic, of course, wasn’t typical, but “sushi was a big winner in Covid, because sushi is a great takeout food if done right,” Bleu told me recently. “We’re actually doing our strongest sales in history.”             


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