Retaining the original taste of the material
Akafusa’s fish flake products have long been loved by the people of Kesennuma who say,“When we hear the term ‘fish flakes,’we think first of Akafusa.”To produce tasty products, the company carefully carries out the entire production process from preparing the raw fish to manually breaking it into flakes and filling them into jars. The company is very conscientious about using only natural materials to bring out the true flavor of the fish.
Taste and materials
Meticulous selection of natural materials to bring out the original flavor of the material.
A ton and a half of salmon is made into fillets each day by machine,using one of several operating in kesennuma.
“In the form of small bottles bearing the label “Akafusa.”
The taste we’ve been aiming for, The natural essence of the ingredients.
CEO: Tomomasa Akasaka
“I just want to make delicious things. That’s all.”
Nestled quietly in a residential area of Kesennuma City are two small buildings. These are the headquarters and factory of Akafusa Foods Co., Ltd. Here, they produce popular products known as “flakes” such as salmon, yellowtail, and halibut, making them synonymous with “Akafusa” when it comes to flakes in Kesennuma.
Tomomasa Akasaka, the chief executive officer, arrives at work every morning at 6 o’clock and heads straight to the boiler room of the factory. He is the first to flick on the switches of the machinery. “This is the heart of our operation,” he says. As all the machines quietly come to life, he works alone until 8 o’clock when the employees arrive. “The part-time staff have already prepared everything the day before,” he explains. It’s indeed an efficiently set up workflow. And so, the day at Akafusa Foods begins.
The hygienic factory is divided into several rooms for different processes. In the production line for salmon flakes, meticulously prepped whole salmon undergo hand processing and are swiftly cut into two fillets and a middle bone by a machine, one of only a few in Kesennuma.
“It’s all thanks to this machine that we can process one and a half tons of salmon in a day,” says Mr. Akasaka. The salmon fillets are then peeled, marinated in a secret sauce for a day, grilled, and shredded to become the final product.
Regarding the secret sauce, it remains a company secret, but Mr. Akasaka insists on using only natural ingredients to bring out the original flavors of the materials. His straightforward dedication to simply wanting to create delicious products is evident in his humble words.
Having a family, having Kesennuma, It’s what drives me to do my best.
Mr. Akasaka, who interacts calmly and warmly, exudes a kindness that puts people at ease. During break times, he chats amiably with part-time staff, resembling an older brother figure. “You really love your work, don’t you? Hobbies? Well… work, I suppose,” he chuckles, his dedication to work evident. At the same time, he values socializing during company events like New Year’s parties, year-end gatherings, and cherry blossom viewings just as much as work, never forgetting to acknowledge his colleagues’ efforts. “Creating the flavor is my responsibility, but because there are people who work hard alongside me, we can bring the product to market,” he says.
His post-work enjoyment lies in alcohol, particularly shochu on the rocks. However, instead of going out, he heads straight home after work. For Mr. Akasaka, the most luxurious moment is tipping back a glass while looking at the faces of his wife and one-year-old son. “When I see my family’s faces, all tiredness just disappears, and I feel motivated to do my best again tomorrow.” His wife serves as a reassuring partner, sometimes offering insightful advice about the products from a homemaker’s perspective, which Mr. Akasaka greatly values and incorporates into the product development process.
As their distribution expands throughout Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, they sometimes receive unexpectedly heartwarming feedback. “After the earthquake, I received a letter from a housewife in Yokohama. She said the products were delicious, and upon learning that we’re a company from Kesennuma, she encouraged us to keep going. It was heartening,” he recalls. Mr. Akasaka personally wrote back to her. “Since then, my attachment and pride toward Kesennuma have only grown stronger. I need to keep pushing forward,” he says. His sentiments will continue to be conveyed nationwide, embodied in the form of small bottles bearing the label “Akafusa.”