In the seafood industry, product quality and freshness are unambiguous parameters. Through years of research and development, Tokio Sugano successfully developed a cultivation system for shrimp that does not harm the environment and produces some of the healthiest and best-tasting shrimp for the global market.
|SK Foods President and founder
Tokio Sugano |
When Sugano, founder and president of SK Foods Indonesia, first traveled to the U.S. in the late 1960s, cooked frozen food products were on the rise. It was immediately evident that these were gaining popularity because they were convenient.
It made him think back to his mother in Japan. At that time, Japanese housewives spent most of the day cooking and cleaning, and frozen food was widely unknown in the country.
“Housewives were too busy with food preparation. With the convenience of frozen pre-cooked food, my mother would have had a lot more time for other things,” Sugano recalls.
In 1973, Sugano started SK Foods in Japan as the first and only supplier of frozen shrimp in the form of fried shrimp, shrimp cutlets and later tempura shrimp.
Japan was opening up to frozen food, and large food processing companies recognized its potential. At the same time, supermarket chains and family restaurants began to expand. So, Sugano decided to specialize in shrimp — the favorite food of many Japanese.
At that time, the technology for shrimp cultivation focused on productivity rather than sustainability, which often required extensive mangrove deforestation, as well as the use of artificial feed and antibiotic drugs. Sugano looked to other countries for different methods. On a visit to Indonesia, he discovered that, for over 200 years, fish farmers used brackish water (river water mixed with sea water), which was rich in plankton. Sugano also found out that black tiger shrimp were very adaptable to this method because their natural food source was plankton. He developed a method to produce healthy, great-tasting and top-quality shrimp in that manner. At this point, he established SK Foods Indonesia in East Java.
In 2005, SK Foods Indonesia expanded with a hatchery, from where shrimp are harvested and cleaned, cooked, frozen and exported to Japan.
“With this perfect, vertically integrated cultivation system, we do not have to take shrimp from the sea, or burden nature in any way. Humans cannot live without consumption from nature, but we can find food without burdening nature. This dream is possible and can be realized,” says Sugano.
Sugano now produces “Eco-Organic” shrimp that can be said to be one of the healthiest and best-tasting pre-cooked shrimp in the world.
With demand for top-quality seafood worldwide increasing rapidly, his company has gone from a dream to reality in supplying natural food that is nutritious and delicious without contributing to the destruction of our environment.