PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: Senrei - The Small Town Japanese Fishery Transforming the Global Fishing Industry
As the world leader in fishing, Japan plays a pivotal role in influencing the global fishing industry. One key player who is leading the way in transforming the entire Japanese fishing industry is Senrei (literally meaning “fresh cold”).
Senrei was formed in the small rural town of Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture by the merging of two companies - Ishimori Shoten, a fish store, and Kiyoshi Oka, a seafood processing company - after both companies experienced devastating damage in 2011 from the tsunami. Together, their business has strengthened and has become more resilient against future disasters. At their new company, Senrei, they set out to develop innovative ways to provide high quality fish to Japan and the rest of the world.
The company's mission state reflects the lessons they learned from the 2011 disaster, lessons which echo today in the current global pandemic: "on the day of the Great East Japan earthquake, we realized that we cannot take anything for granted... ...We need to link arms and think together... ...We appreciate being alive for now and we are determined to be alive for the future."
The simple but heartfelt message of the company's mission statement is shared within the company, as well as in the city. It unites the company with their business partners, working together to ensure the high quality taste and freshness of their products.
By combining traditional fishing techniques with cutting-edge technology, Senrei created a system combining CAS (Cells Alive Systems) technology with a tunnel freezer. CAS is a type of freezer developed in Chiba Prefecture, which flash freezes food using electromagnetic waves and mechanical vibrations. This method limits the formation of ice crystals, which compromises food texture and freshness. By using the freezing system together with a 50-foot conveyor belt, the Senrei facility can freeze nearly 1,000 pounds of fish in a single hour.
This technology, which took years to perfect, allows Senrei to preserve the freshness of the seafood they harvest from the rich waters around Onagawa Town. While certain fish are only available seasonally, their freezing method ensures that their fish can be available year round.
The freezing method achieves the world’s highest level of food safety and hygiene, meaning that fish can even be safely stored at room temperature, such as their Sanriku Sanma (Saury) featured in our June Tohoku Nourishing Essentials Care Pakcage and Sanriku Saba (Mackerel) featured in our Summer Tohoku Seasonal Delights Care Package. Fresh saury and mackerel, brought into the port at Sanriku Onagawa, are processed the same day to preserve their quality and freshness. The fish are gently simmered with traditional Japanese seasonings and fresh ginger to create a balanced yet distinct flavor. The whole fish is used, including the bones, which are soft, highly nutritious, and packed with calcium.
The growth and popularity of Senrei's seafood is a testament to their willingness to take chances and not to be bound by pre-existing ideas. One of the founders of Senrei, Mr. Oka, did not originally come from Onagawa Town, yet he set down roots in the town and became well-respected and welcomed into the small community. The company continues to bring in young people as new employees, recruiting them from larger cities, to help revitalize the area.
Enjoy the sense of vitality and vigor from Onagawa Town through the fresh seafood provided by Senrei, inspired by the struggle and hardship that the founders experienced and the hope, optimism, and unity they built together.
Learn more at https://www.onagawa-senrei.co.jp/