Today, The Worldfolio sits down with Toshiya Onodera, to discuss the new trends in food safety, and how Kyowa Medical will shape the future of the industry.
The population in Japan is the oldest in the world, and the population is also decreasing, causing a large amount of stress in Japanese society. We can see that this trend is happening everywhere in the world. My first question to you is: what can the Japanese medical devices bring to the world, what are the advantages of the Japanese medical devices, and why is it important to spread them worldwide?
In terms of larger scale medical devices such as the MRI machines, we can notice that a lot of global firms such as Phillips, Siemens and GE are doing a better job at producing such large scale, bigger medical devices. But when it comes to what can Japanese manufacturers contribute to that field, we can say that Japan, produces the best internal checking systems, and different components for these devices. When it comes specifically to what Japan can offer to an ageing society, that's a difficult question to answer in terms of treatment based medical devices. However, what Japan can offer is various styles of doing the diagnosis and checking.
What Japan is becoming good at is providing support and new ways to check on patients while managing a decreasing workforce and population. We are starting to see that Japan is devising different ways to be able to provide medical support, and ways to do doctors checks without utilising human capital. In that sense, utilizing different systems to undergo a diagnoses as well as creating new ways of detecting and analysing a potential problem are becoming more and more frequent within the Japanese medical system.
I personally believe that Japan is really focused on prevention based treatment and techniques rather than a specific device or machine. The Japanese medical world is beginning to elevate the awareness among the public concerning prevention based treatment
I would now like to talk about your company: Could you walk us briefly through the history and the key milestones of your company?
We began operations in 1986 and we started out as a company that sold medical devices, basically a trader. We quickly realised that simply selling medical devices was not enough, and we took it upon ourselves to contribute more to the Japanese medical sector.
We therefore began to investigate the medicine field and really began to ask ourselves what kind of support we could provide to doctors in order for them to improve their work. We therefore made it our mission to provide a wide array of tools to doctors, based on various information that we analysed in order to provide solutions. However, with the rise of Internet, we slowly but surely became obsolete. As much information was already available on the net, we started to ponder on how we could continue to contribute to society. As doctors and other medical cooperation’s didn’t require our services, we decided to contribute to another industry that requires high level of safety: the food industry.
What we realized as we began to do more investigation into the food environment in Japan, is that our country provides a lot of tasty food. However, when it comes to hygiene standards, there was nothing that was consistent. We noticed that in terms of information regarding the origin of ingredients and the control on those product standard, Japan was still not up to the global standards. In fact, there were aspects of that which we're still seen as unhygienic. We therefore started to look at how we could make all these different restaurant and hotels meet the international standards and ensure safe food was served to all their customers.
Actually just around this time, just last year, Japan passed a law that all Japanese food products, have to comply with the Hassan AJCC standards.
In fact, we could say that this is good fortune for us, as we were in line with Japan’s vision.
It is great that such a law was put into place, but it's one thing for to be put in place and another for it to actually be applied and implemented. And that's why we believe our job is essential. We are starting to see that we have a big role to play: although the law was implemented, the country as a whole still, was lacking in knowledge in terms of how to implement it. They were lacking in terms of management, guidance and education regarding the know-how. Our approach is to help food providers implement this regulation. For this particular reason, we decided to create our original system called K-HCCP.
The reason behind us taking this path is that we believe that we are crucial in the implementation of these new standards, and we know what all providers need to do to reach such high and interesting standards. When it comes to food and hygiene, complying with a inspection, doesn't necessarily ensure that you are continually, promoting and complying with high food safety standards. We therefore decided to create a series in which these food providers can have continued training and education in order for them to maintain high levels of excellence when it comes to their food safety and hygiene.
Internationally speaking, Japanese is always portrayed as an extremely clean country, from the impeccable streets, all the way to the cleanliness of the restaurant. Are you trying to export this consultancy service that you provide to the providers?
Yes, absolutely. We're looking to franchise our system and export it to a wide range of overseas clients. In fact, this business has just started. However, we've been able to secure many clients, such as famous hotels in Japan as well as event venues.
The system that is in place now is focused on analysing the cooking process. However, we are currently in the process of developing a machinery that can detect certain germs and viruses in factories and the food that is on the assembly line before they're shipped out. Actually, we recently won an award for this machine, the Bio Opti and we are confident that it will be extremely successful on the worldwide scene.
Until our particular machine was introduced, we noticed that various companies had their own internal inspection systems in place. Therefore, there’s no consistency across the inspections.
And the reason for this is because inspections are carried out by the naked eye, which of course increases the error factor. Our machine is fully automated, therefore we are able to eliminate human error and the psychological stress that is put under the inspector.
In addition, this will have a huge economic impact for companies. On a weekly basis, companies have to throw out huge quantities of food as they can’t be 100% sure that the whole batch of food has not been contaminated. Therefore, the whole batch is thrown out, instead of a small portion of contaminated food.
I find that very interesting because thanks to your machine, you will be able to create a world standard. Can you tell us more about which markets you are planning to introduce this machine, and where you plan on expanding?
This machine has just been developed and we are therefore really looking to target meat, dairy and water factories. We will then expand to all food related factories that plan on shipping their stock. We are therefore talking about tens of thousands of factories.
Are you looking for any future partners for your business or to merge and collaborate with other companies?
Actually there are various other Japanese companies that are looking to sponsor and support us on this project. They've not yet put down the capital that we need, but they're really looking to support us. So we do have to wait and see what happens with this in regards to the future of this project.
One problem we face is that people may feel afraid to introduce this device, they may fear getting fired. So in that sense, it's actually really difficult for them to introduce this and to be on board with accepting this new project.
Therefore, we're really approaching and targeting the management level of companies because we are a small company ourselves. We still don't have the capacity required to take on such a task. Consequently, that's why we have a firm supporting us and sponsoring us. They are providing us with backup support.
What goals or objectives would you like your company to achieve in five years time ? What would you like to have accomplished?
I'd like to promote the awareness and use of our K HACCP across the world. We want to be known as the pioneers in this field with our inspection system. We believe this system could be a benefit to all people. Also, we would like to spread the use of our Bio OPTI. However, we are aware that we may face difficulties in introducing such products but we are willing to face and overcome these differences. We will strive to overcome this barrier and we look forward to this challenge of spreading the knowledge and use of our products to the world.