European Business: Looking back at KALI TUNA’s history, what were some of the company’s greatest milestones?
Jiro Kambe: KALI TUNA d.o.o. was established in Kali on the island of Ugljan in 1996. Two Australians of Croatian descent are considered the pioneers of the farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna business in the Mediterranean. Since 2015 the company has been wholly owned by the Japanese company J-Trading Inc. Under its leadership, KALI TUNA has once again made a step forward in production by adding completely new products such as fish that is cut and produced in cold chain at -60°C. We’re also rated as a provider of top-quality sushi and sashimi marine products. We always strive to be the best in our business, and we will continue to satisfy customers’ demands, meet the strictest criteria, sustain our productivity and open new markets.
European Business: What are your most important fields of business today, and where do you see the most promising prospects for the years to come?
Jiro Kambe: Our primary focus is still tuna. Nowadays, customers are more educated, and they’re seeking even better-quality products. Thus, it is and will be our main aim to provide such highly satisfying products to every customer. Also, the Adriatic Sea is rich with a vast variety of fish, so we will offer the best quality and most luscious marine products from this area.
European Business: How does KALI TUNA stand out from its competitors? Why do your customers choose you?
Jiro Kambe: Our tuna is raised for a period of almost three years and is fed only the best, freshest, most nutritious feed. Due to this special treatment, our tuna has a fine and delicate taste that melts in your mouth. Some customers prefer the fatty parts while others enjoy the leaner red parts. Our mission is to meet every customer’s demands and satisfy them by adjusting the feeds in each cage. Taking care of even the smallest needs of our customers is our duty.
European Business: Tuna fishing has been a major issue worldwide due to the methods used. What is your philosophy here?
Jiro Kambe: We value the ocean and the life in it, so we always try to secure the sustainable growth and harvest of tuna. We always consider the environment, as well as the protection of wild fish stock and its recovery. One of our most important tasks is to increase the chances for the tuna to reproduce. Therefore, we are trying to innovate the most efficient method throughout the cycle for the spawning and reproduction of farmed tuna.
European Business: What are the challenges of tuna farming today?
Jiro Kambe: First, the market price of tuna and tuna feed is highly volatile. Second, catch quotas are being reduced these days, so we are constantly working hard to fulfil all the requirements of our customers. Lastly, the younger generations are unfortunately not really interested in the fishing industry; hence, keeping enough manpower is also challenging for us.
European Business: What are your most important export regions?
Jiro Kambe: The most important export region is still Japan, though we see great potential in our local market. We are striving to develop and encourage it.
European Business: How has the market been developing over the last few years? What opportunities and challenges do you expect in the future?
Jiro Kambe: The local market is developing, and we are very pleased with the situation. Regarding tuna, the Sushi & Wine Festival in Zadar, which we co-sponsor, attracts not only domestic but also foreign visitors. Our aim is to encourage the local producers, and they still have many opportunities to create high-quality products. As for the challenges, neither tuna nor Japanese cuisine are especially accessible for many yet. Thus, we are trying to make them more approachable and well-known. As a consequence, a wide range of people will be attracted and can bring innovation and strength to our company.
European Business: Where would you like to see KALI TUNA in the market in the next few years?
Jiro Kambe: As already mentioned, we’re going to focus on the expansion of the local market, but not only Croatia – also throughout Europe and globally. We are proud to say that KALI TUNA Hong Kong was just established, and we will try to expand our future business by using the Hong Kong branch as a stepping stone.