Japanese firms looking to invest in eel cultivation

Posted on July 30, 2016

A 15-member Japanese consortium from the food processing and storage industries will tie up with local partners with investments of up to $500 million to source agricultural and fishery products for export, particularly unagi, or eel.

“The key problem in the Philippines is we don’t have the technology. They will provide the technology,” Chairman and President of Philippine Aquamarine Resources, Inc. Renato V. Diaz, who also leads the project, told reporters yesterday in a briefing.

According to an executive summary provided to journalists, the groups aim to set up world-class facilities initially in Mindanao and Luzon as part of their food material sourcing, processing, storage and export operations to Japan. While fruit and other agricultural products will be among the initial exports, the consortium is intent on eventually becoming a major supplier of unagi, or eel.

“The order of the exercise is to grow the best eel in the best places,” he said.

Once fully operational, the project expects annual aggregate exports of 10 billion yen, of which 6 billion, or around $600 million, are expected to come from eel sales.

Mr. Diaz, a former congressman, said that while there is still no proven technology for the artificially breeding of eel, it would work for the Philippines’ advantage to utilize its aquatic resources.

Around $200 milion of the initial investment will be channeled towards efforts to improve local facilities in order to meet the sensitive temperature requirements for breeding eel.

The project will be based at several sites: General Santos and Davao Cities; Clark Freeport in Pampanga; and the Cagayan Economic Zone in northern Luzon. The groups are currently undertaking hydrology tests to see which areas are most suitable for breeding eel, among other aquatic resources.

The Philippine partners include RVD Management Services & Holding Co., Inc. in which Mr. Diaz is also President, and tuna processor Well-Delight Network Corp.