Established in 1943, Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui) is the second-largest seafood company in the world. Nissui has fishery operations across Asia, South America, and Oceania, as well as aquaculture operations in Chile and Japan. Furthermore, the company has a global network of subsidiaries that are active in sourcing, processing, and trading seafood products. In addition to seafood, Nissui also produces chemical products and is active in logistics, cold storage, and engineering.
Governance and management of stewardship practices
Nissui’s 2030 sustainability vision focuses on three broad themes: environment, food loss and waste, and employee health. Each theme is linked to a number of KPIs as well as both quantitative and qualitative goals, covering a broader spectrum of environmental and social targets than many of its benchmark peers. Responsibility for each goal is assigned to a relevant sub-committee, and Nissui explicitly commits to implementing them across the entirety of its operations.
Nissui aims to exclusively source its seafood from sustainable sources by 2030, yet the systems it currently has in place are poorly defined and lack robustness. To monitor the legal origins of its marine ingredients, the company states that it receives certificates of origin. However, Nissui explains that these certificates are not obligatory, which reduces the company’s accountability and suggests an overall weak commitment to ensuring the legality of its ingredients. The company states that in 2017 over one-third of Nissui’s wild-caught fish were MSC-certified. The company, however, does not show that it has any firm programmes or initiatives in place aimed at increasing the proportion of its products that come from well-managed sources.
Nissui indicates that the status for 9 percent of its wild-caught fish is unknown while 3 percent is deemed “not healthy”. These 3 percent include “critically endangered” species, such as the southern bluefin tuna or the European eel. The company needs to address the issue of trading endangered species as a priority, determine the status of the unknown 9 percent of its wild-caught fish and scale up efforts to meet its 2030 target to exclusively source its seafood from sustainable sources.
Impact on ecosystems
Compared to benchmark peers, Nissui discloses very little information about how it addresses the impact of its operations on ecosystems. For its aquaculture activities, the company should increase transparency regarding what disease management plans it has in place or what it does to minimize the risk of escapes. Also, Nissui should disclose information about the antibiotics and chemicals used in its aquaculture operations, as well as the composition of the ingredients in the aquaculture feed it uses.
Nissui formulated the ‘Nissui Group Basic Procurement Policy’ in 2017, indicating that the company has in place a commitment to upholding human rights. One notable initiative is the company’s action plan for women’s empowerment, under which it conducts seminars to enhance the management skills of female employees, thereby contributing to their career advancement. However, Nissui lacks evidence of due diligence procedures for human and labour rights. The company could formulate corporate-level approaches for assessing and mitigating risks associated with potential adverse human rights impacts resulting from its own operations and its supply chains.
Nissui provides very little information about how its supports local communities. Subsidiary Cité Marine indicates that it respects indigenous populations’ access to and use of fish resources. Nissui could consider a more systematic approach to involving local employees and local businesses in its operations and benefiting the livelihoods of people in local communities.