True World has sights set on yellowtail sashimi brand

Undercurrent News/March 19, 2014

By Eva Tallaksen

Describing itself as North America’s largest sashimi tuna supplier, True World Foods is looking to expand its market reach by going more mainstream, while establishing its Total Hamachi brand for yellowtail sashimi products.

“A lot of companies have tried to develop brands for tuna, or for salmon, but there are no brands for yellowtail,” Tad Kumagai, executive assistant at the New Jersey-based supplier, told Undercurrent News during the Seafood Expo North America in Boston on March 17.

“We want to develop Total Hamachi, as a restaurant brand,” said Kumagai (pictured).

True World sources some 180 metric tons of yellowtail a year. All of it is farmed, said Kumagai, noting this offers more stability in supply and grading.

Other top species include bigeye, yellowfin and bluefin tuna.

The $500 million revenue group — which has sister companies in Japan and the UK, among others — also wants to expand from its traditional reach to new customer bases, said Kumagai.

Japanese restaurants in the US are currently its bread and butter. But the aim is to also supply more mainstream restaurants, for instance for Italian, American or French cuisine, he said. “More and more chefs are getting more comfortable handling raw fish.”

With 23 branches in the US, True World claims to be the pioneer of sushi in the US. “We started off in New York some 30 years ago, selling sushi in Harlem in the winter time. Our only customers were the cats!”

While True World is focused solely downstream, True World Japan is active further upstream. True World Japan already partners with a yellowtail farm in Japan and is now looking at partnering with a bluefin tuna farm said Kumagai. Farmed tuna also offers benefits in addressing customers’ concerns about mercury levels in tuna, he said.

Founded in the 1970s, True World Foods is part of True World Group, which also owns True World Marine, True World Market and True World Restaurants.

The company was founded by Sun Myung Moon, a Korea-born billionaire, who moved to the US in the early 1970s. Moon, who died in 2012, was most famous for founding the Unification Church.

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