Japan delegates praise Cargill following devastating earthquake
March 11, 2011 was a day in history which Hiro Watanabe, leader of the integrated sales division for Japan’s Showa-Sangyo Bakery Co. Ltd, will not soon forget.
That day marked the arrival of the most-powerful earthquake in Japan's recorded history – a 9.0 magnitude event which struck off the country's northeast coast and caused a massive tsunami which devastated many parts of the country.
The earthquake claimed the lives of an estimated 20,000 people and destroyed much of the country's infrastructure, including water, gas, transportation and electricity.
It also led to severe damage at Showa’s main factory.
"The damage was so significant that I was unable to go home for quite some time," Watanabe explained to residents attending the Sept. 5 celebration of Cargill's new grain handling facility near McLennan.
Because of logistical issues, Japan was also faced with a significant shortfall of food as a direct result of production coming to a virtual standstill after the quake.
Through the destruction there was a ray of hope and optimism. It came from Ajinomoto Bakery and Showa, which continued working in order to supply and deliver its products 17 hours a day over a two-month period following the quake, without staff taking a single day off.
Those responsibilities included continuing to provide food products such as wheat flour, vegetable oil, and corn sweetener to 7-Eleven stores in Japan during the country's greatest time of need.
"We supply our product through manufacturing companies that produce products exclusively for 7-Eleven Japan."
"Our competitors even joined in renting trucks to deliver wheat and flour on behalf of other damaged factories. We never stopped supplying our products in order to protect and support the supply chain," Watanabe emphasized.
In the time since the devastating earthquake, the two companies have received countless letters from 7-Eleven customers thanking them for maintaining supplies during the emergency crisis.
Watanabe says he was truly impressed by this and realized that Showa was directly supporting Japanese people through the hardships.
Instrumental in all of this was Cargill, which supported the two companies by supplying grain products in a timely and reliable manner.
"We owe getting through our hardships to Cargill and the farmers that are here today," Watanabe said.
Showa-Sangyo is recognized as one of the largest grain handlers and food manufacturers in Japan.
The business is divided into five divisions such as: wheat & flour division, oilseeds crushing division, corn milling and corn sweetener division, animal feed division, and household consumer product division and imports grain such as wheat, durum, canola, soybeans and corn, primarily from Canada and the U.S.
The annual amount of grain imported is approximately two million metric tonnes, a significant portion of which is derived from Cargill.
The two companieis have been in business together for over 30 years and continue to enjoy a positive working relationship.
"Cargill is not only our main supplier, but is also a trustful and dependable partner," Watanabe acknowledged.
"Showa deeply appreciate the continuous support and encouragement from Cargill and Canadian farmers. We have full confidence that Showa will be able to get over challenges in the future because of the partnership we have with Cargill."
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