Responsibility to Our Customers
Sojitz Group develops business in a wide range of business areas around the world as it pursues its mission of delivering goods and services to meet customer needs. The company communicates with its stakeholders in order to earnestly address the expectations and demands set by society, and Sojitz seeks to not only comply with relevant laws and regulations, but maintain an active awareness of the importance of quality management throughout its business activities. Through these efforts, Sojitz strives to fulfill its responsibility to its customers.
Responsible Advertising and Marketing
Sojitz Group implements responsible advertising and marketing practices in accordance with the Sojitz Group Corporate Statement, Sojitz Group Slogan, and Sojitz Guiding Principles in order to build enduring trust with stakeholders through a spirit of integrity.
Sojitz Group implements a “One Brand Strategy” which stipulates the use of a single Group name and Group symbol in order to create a unified visual identity, promote a positive brand reputation among our customers, and foster a sense of unity across Sojitz Group. Sojitz has established rules and regulations that prescribe processes for gaining internal approval for marketing and advertising materials in order to ensure the appropriateness of published language and content. For all advertising materials, Sojitz gives careful consideration to concerns including defamation, discriminatory language, religious and political beliefs, the environment, the privacy of third parties, personal information, and intellectual property rights. The company also seeks to ensure responsible information sharing through internal educational programs and the establishment of a monitoring framework.
Sojitz Group implements responsible marketing practices by strictly complying with laws and regulations regarding marketing (such as the Unfair Competition Prevention Act) and by ensuring that all content and language does not damage the trust or reputation of third parties, violate rights, or provide misinformation.
Our value chain spans from resource development and production to processing, wholesaling, distribution, and ultimately retail sales and service provision. We have transactions with a variety of corporate and consumer customers in our various businesses along the supply chain, and we are committed to providing our customers and society with safe and reliable goods and services. Sojitz Group’s quality management initiatives reflect our dedication to this mission.
Although the necessary approach toward quality management varies depending on the business, we have established the Sojitz Group Quality Management Policy to define basic principles for quality management to be applied on a company-wide basis. This policy promotes standardized quality management practices and guides us in cultivating quality management awareness among all Sojitz Group members in order to create value through our quality management initiatives.
Sojitz Group Quality Management Policy
Sojitz Group Quality Management Initiatives
Sojitz Group’s mission as a general trading company is to deliver goods and services to meet customer needs. By taking a proactive approach to grasp the true needs of the market, Sojitz aims to contribute to people’s lives and to society by creating value and prosperity through its business activities.
We are committed to providing our customers and society with safe and reliable goods and services. Sojitz Group’s quality management initiatives reflect our dedication to understanding and responding to customer needs.
Quality Management Policy
- Integrity and Trust
Sojitz will act in good faith to meet the quality standards of its customers and society. We seek to build enduring trust through our constant efforts to realize these expectations.
As people's values and social environments change, companies are faced with new requirements for quality. We will meet these new standards by continuing to implement appropriate quality management systems, including updating our methods based on technological innovation.
- Strong Human Capital
Quality management issues not only affect our direct customers and suppliers, but also have an impact on society as a whole. We will strengthen our human capital to carry out quality management practices and deliver goods and services that meet true market needs, in order to continue to create value and prosperity.
We strive to offer fair and comprehensive information and explanations related to the goods and services provided in order to fulfill our accountability to customers and to society.
- Compliance with Agreements and Legal Regulations
Sojitz pledges to uphold its promise to provide customers with quality goods and services. In addition, we fully understand and act in compliance with legal regulations related to quality management.
Scope of Policy
This policy applies to the quality management of all goods and services handled by Sojitz Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries.
Revisions to the Policy
Sojitz Group will review and revise this policy as necessary based on social issues in each country and region, changes in people’s values and lifestyles, technological innovations, and the expansion of the Group’s business fields.
As Sojitz Group is engaged in diverse business fields, the influence of supply chains has become more far reaching. Sojitz established the Quality Management Committee in FY2021 as an organization under the supervision of the president & CEO to ensure company-wide quality management of the goods and services we provide to our customers. We are working to spread knowledge of quality management throughout the company, classify transactions and businesses, visualize initiatives, and clarify response measures in case a problem arises.
The Quality Management Committee reports its planned annual activities and status of business execution to the Management Committee and Board of Directors and receives directives and guidance from the Board of Directors. Based on the specific needs of each business, specialized quality management organizations are set up within Sojitz’s business divisions in order to maintain and increase quality.
Quality Management System
As shown in the diagram, specialized quality management organizations refer to specialized organizations within Sojitz Corporation and its operating companies. In April 2008, Sojitz was the first general trading company to establish a Quality Assurance Office(*) within our business division to handle food safety and security. For more information, please see Initiatives.
* The Quality Assurance Office is currently in charge of food safety management for food product businesses within the Retail & Consumer Service Division and Consumer Industry & Agriculture Business Division. We also undertake these same quality assurance initiatives for processed food products planned and developed by Sojitz Group companies.
In accordance with the Sojitz Group Quality Management Policy, Sojitz conducts independent and responsible quality management at each business site, and the Quality Management Committee performs comprehensive business monitoring for the Group.
Quality Management Committee Members (as of April 1st, 2023)
The Quality Management Committee is an executing body under the supervision of the president & CEO who appoints an executive officer to chair the committee, which is comprised of general managers from the Planning & Administration Office for each business division.
Sojitz Group’s ISO 9001 Certification Status
for more details (Japanese only)
Sojitz Group conducts quality management for its diverse business fields based on the aforementioned policy and basic approach.
In the Retail & Consumer Service Division and Consumer Industry & Agriculture Business Division, the following initiatives are carried out to maintain our policy of food safety and security.
Sojitz’s approach for maintaining food safety and security
Our company was the first general trading company to establish a Quality Assurance Office(*1) within our business division in April 2008 to handle increased consumer concern for food safety and to manage increasing food logistics risks resulting from the acceleration of globalization. We will continue to undertake effective initiatives to maintain the safety and security of food.
For example, we have set up a registration system for suppliers requiring food safety certification in accordance with HACCP*, an internationally recognized approach which was implemented in Japan from June 2021 in response to the amendments to Japan’s Food Sanitation Act. We conduct factory audits, production floor visits, food labeling verification of products for which Sojitz is responsible, as well as centralized management of information relating to consumer complaints.
Furthermore, as China is still a major global supplier of food, we established the Quality Assurance Office's China Branch Office in May 2008. We have full-time quality assurance staff to continually conduct factory audits and production floor visits within the country and provide information to factories.
For sales staff that work directly with our clients, we hold meetings to share information on food safety, conduct e-Learning courses, and utilize chatbots to provide general knowledge on food safety and related internal rules. Going beyond food labeling laws and regulations, we educate employees on points to take note of for responsible food labeling, as well as basic knowledge for managing quality and sanitation.
Sojitz Foods Corporation, a 100% equity interest of Sojitz Corporation, and The Marine Foods Corporation handle products targeted to general consumers. In accordance with an originally designed program, the company undertakes initiatives for employee education and proper food labeling in compliance with laws and regulations.
* Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP): A method of food safety management in which food business operators analyze hazard points such as contamination with food poisoning bacteria or a foreign substance and eliminate or reduce these hazard points within the entire production process, which includes everything from the delivery of raw materials to shipment of the finished product.
At Sojitz, the Quality Assurance Office checks labeling and phrasing on products and promotional display items from a variety of perspectives, including various laws and regulations, safety, social responsibility, and environmental issues. Through these checks we identify latent risks and problems and provide guidance for making improvements. Furthermore, we make use of these checks in our daily work by keeping records of areas for which we provide guidance for improvement, including reports from related departments on response methods.
Participation in External Initiatives Related to Food Safety
The Quality Assurance Office, which supports the Retail & Consumer Service Division and Consumer Industry & Agriculture Business Division, strives to ensure the safety and reliability of foods and food products handled by Sojitz, including processed foods. In order to maintain and improve its quality assurance functions, the Office is affiliated with the following external organizations to gather and exchange information.
Association for the Safety of Imported Food, Japan (ASIF)
A group of concerned companies involved with importing, manufacturing, distribution, and sales formed ASIF in November 1988to work towards solving imported food safety issues.
These activities led to the ASIF receiving permission from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in September 1992 to become an incorporated association. ASIF received authorization to become a public interest corporation on April 1st, 2011.
ASIF is involved in a wide variety of activities to support food vendors in fulfilling the social responsibility of “delivering safe and secure imported foods.
Read morehttps://www.asif.or.jp/ (Japanese only)
Sojitz Group is a member of the Association for the Safety of Imported Food, Japan, which helps Sojitz employees to stay informed of food import conditions and to be notified of revisions to government ordinances in a timely manner as well as ensure smooth import processes and raise in-house food safety literacy.
Marine Food Hygiene Council
As preparations were underway for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the Association was established in 1962 to contribute to the development of the industry and protect the well-being of citizens, striving to improve the sanitation quality of seafood and to increase cooperation and strengthen bonds between members.
Sojitz Group is a member of the Marine Food Hygiene Council and aims to use the knowledge gained through information exchanges with the council and reflect this input into food safety management systems for marine food products at the company.
The Organization of Japan Food Safety Support
The Organization of Japan Food Safety Support gathers and exchanges information on policy issues regarding food safety in Japan, making policy proposals as deemed necessary. Striving to contribute to the promotion of food safety policies, the Association regularly holds seminars together with businesses and government organizations involved with foods.
Read morehttps://www.food-safety.or.jp/association/ (Japanese only)
Sojitz Group exchanges opinions with executives from The Organization of Japan Food Safety Support to deepen understanding of various laws and regulations while simultaneously promoting food safety policies.
Tokyo Plant Quarantine Association (TPQA)
The TPQA was established to enable smooth, proper, and timely plant quarantine procedures in Tokyo Bay, with services including carrying out and also centralizing plant quarantine procedures.
Read morehttp://www.tokyo-syokken.gr.jp/ (Japanese only)
A representative from Sojitz Group serves as an executive officer for the Tokyo Plant Quarantine Association and coordinates with relevant authorities to ensure smooth plant quarantine practices. Membership helps Sojitz to remain up to date on the latest plant protection practices as well as improve management.
For food product transactions undertaken by the Retail & Consumer Service Division and Consumer Industry & Agriculture Business Division in both Japan and overseas, we have set up a registration system for suppliers requiring food safety certification in accordance with HACCP, an internationally recognized approach which was implemented in Japan from June 2021 in response to the amendments to Japan’s Food Sanitation Act.
Furthermore, we encourage project companies to obtain international food safety certifications, such as FSSC22000. Below are organizations that have obtained such certifications.
The MarineFoods Corporation Mie Factory: JFS-C
Sojitz Tuna Farm Takashima Corporation: FSSC22000, ISO22000, SCSA
Dalian Global Food Corporation: BRC, ISO22000, HACCP,EU HACCP, ETI, FDA, MSC
Nippon Premium Bakery Inc.： GMP, HACCP
SOFCO Seafoods Inc.: HACCP
Ensuring Correct Labeling for Processed Foods
In order to ensure the processed foods that we handle are labeled correctly, the Retail & Consumer Service Division and Consumer Industry & Agriculture Business Division have individuals certified in food labeling within their specialized quality management organizations, which are part of a system to confirm that all labels are created in accordance with the established standards for food product labels.
Sojitz Foods Corporation handles products for general consumers and creates food labels in accordance with the company’s independent food labeling procedures. Digital proofreading tools are also utilized to raise accuracy in the label confirmation process through machine checks to avoid human error. Additionally, employee education programs are in place to ensure appropriate food labeling.
The Marine Foods Corporation conducts in-house inspections by individuals certified in food labeling in accordance with ISO9001 and the company’s quality assurance standards. Food label-related information is managed through a centralized system. Each year, a general inspection is made to confirm that all disclosed information matches registered information.
Developing and Supplying Processed Foods with a Low Environmental Impact
The Marine Foods Corporation has developed a lobster soup product which incorporates whole lobster heads as a raw material. The manufacturing process reduces waste products by utilizing the lobster head and other parts that are generally discarded after the sauce from the soup stock is extracted.
Additionally, Sojitz Foods Corporation and Tastable Co., Ltd. develop and sell plant-based meat NIKUVEGE patties which reduce the use of water by 92% and greenhouse gases by 98%. Sojitz Group will continue to take on the challenge of developing food products with a low environmental impact and utilizing limited resources effectively.