Meiji Seika Kaisha, Ltd.
Meiji Seika Kaisha, Ltd.
Sales: ¥286.4 billion (US$2.29 billion)
Stock Index: Tokyo Osaka Nagoya
Founded in 1916 as a manufacturer of biscuits and caramels, Meiji Seika Kaisha today is one of Japan’s leading producers of chocolate and confectionery products. The company also produces many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals. Meiji has applied its technological strengths aggressively to enter new markets at home and abroad.
Meiji sought to establish a competitive advantage right from the start by being the first company to introduce chocolate snacks, bars, and candies, all of which quickly became a standard part of the Japanese diet. These products were soon followed by other snack and health-related items.
In 1936, the company diversified into the production of canned vegetables and fruit. The technology used in this expansion was later applied to the manufacture and packaging of a variety of related food products, including cocoa, juices, and carbonated drinks, powdered mixes, and high-protein health foods.
Meiji entered the pharmaceutical market when it began to produce penicillin in 1946. This diversification was a logical outgrowth of the company’s experience in using fermentation in food production. Successful introductions of other antibiotic products, geriatric and cancer drugs, and diagnostic reagents provided high levels of return on Meiji’s extensive research and manufacturing investments and served as the basis for later development of animal feed additives, germicides, and herbicides both for export and for domestic use. Meiji is one of the largest antibiotic producers in the world; pharmaceuticals currently represent approximately 40% of the company’s total sales.
Beginning in the late 1960s, Meiji turned its attention abroad, establishing its first United States subsidiary, Meiji Seika (U.S.A.), for the import and export of food and confectionery products in 1969. Another American subsidiary, Stauffer-Meiji, was established in 1985 and began manufacturing cookies and crackers from its Pennsylvania headquarters in 1986.
Additional marketing and sales affiliates for food and confectionery items were formed in Singapore in 1974, Europe and Colombia in 1984, and Taiwan in 1986. A joint venture with United Biscuits in 1971 brought that British company’s McVitie biscuits to Japan in exchange for Meiji’s confectionery expertise. The next year Meiji began to import chocolate manufacturing technology from Switzerland’s Interfood Ltd. (now Jacobs Suchard A.G.).
In 1973, Meiji established the Dong-Myung Industrial Company Ltd. in Korea to produce and market its pharmaceutical products. These drugs were subsequently introduced in more than 60 countries through affiliates formed in Indonesia in 1974, Thailand in 1979, and Brazil in 1983—the location of another affiliate created nine years earlier to manufacture and sell the company’s veterinary products.
By the 1980s, Meiji’s confectionery technology was in high demand. Two joint ventures, one in the United States in 1988 and the other with the French-based Beghin Say S.A. in 1989, were established to manufacture and market the artificial sweetener fructooligo saccharide, which Meiji had introduced in Japan in 1984.
Today, under the management of its current chairman, Takeshi Nakagawa, Meiji operates 12 plants, nine research laboratories, 93 branch offices, 45 subsidiaries, three overseas offices, and 102 sales offices worldwide. While continuing to focus on confectionery products, food, and pharmaceuticals, the company has also begun to develop more health-oriented food products, new drugs, enzymes, edible fungi, and agricultural chemicals.
Meiji’s skill in applying technological advancements to new product development will be a key factor in its future growth. Swings in the value of the yen, intensified consumer demand and changing tastes, and increasing competition from both domestic and foreign firms challenge the company’s major business areas. As the competitive environment, in particular, forces Meiji to reduce product prices in order to hold onto its market share, the company will have to continue to institute operating and production efficiencies and cost reduction measures if it is to match its high level of productivity and performance in the future.
Meiji Trading Corp.; Meiji Kosan Co., Ltd.; Meiji Sangyo Co., Ltd.; Meiji Chewing Gum Co., Ltd.; Ronde Corp.; Dohnan Shokuhin Co., Ltd.; Zao Shokuhin Co., Ltd.; Okayamaken Shokuhin Co., Ltd.; Ehime Kanzume Co., Ltd.; Uwajima Canning Co., Ltd.; Taiyo Shokuhin Co., Ltd.; Meiji Shokunhin Co., Ltd.; Yamanashi Jozo Co., Ltd.; Meiji Baking Co., Ltd.; Meiji Frozen Dessert Corp.; Foyer Co., Ltd.; Chocolatier Meiji Co., Ltd.; Meiji Seika Retail Co., Ltd.; Meiji Food Service Co., Ltd.; Fuji Amido Chemical Co., Ltd.; Meiji Food Service Co., Ltd.; Fuji Amido Chemical Co., Ltd.; Nitto Co., Ltd.; Meiji Kaihatsu Co., Ltd.; Meito Warehouse Co., Ltd.; Mayp Co., Ltd.; Suchard & Tober, Ltd.; Meiji McVitie, Ltd.; Meiji Seika Pharma International, Ltd.; Sanofi-Meiji Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd.; Meiji Engineering Ltd.; Meiji Information System Center Ltd.; Meiji Jewelery; Meiji Seika (U.S.A.) Inc.; Stauffer-Meiji Co., Inc.