Our summer research assistant has arrived – welcome Kana Ueno!

Our newest summer assistant has arrived and is already hard at work. Welcome, Kana Ueno!

Kana is an undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she is majoring in Sustainable Development Studies. While she grew up in Tokyo, she has an adventurous spirit that led her to choose to study in Switzerland for high school before moving to Scotland to continue her exploration of the world.

She is a full-time summer intern with us in Tokyo this summer and is already deep into research on aquaponics and its global players, supporting field interviews on Thai edible insect products sold in Japan and beginning research into her own independent project on sustainable palm oil.

Kana explained her motivations for wanting to join us this summer. “I wanted to be a summer assistant at Meros because I liked that Meros specializes in food and agribusiness consulting. Since I have been interested in the topic of sustainability and as it is what I major in at university, I was looking for work experience where I can learn how sustainability comes up “in the real world”. After reading the description of what Meros does and how Meros navigates decision-making along the value chain in the food industry, I instantly knew I can learn something new in this environment. I am still considering several possible career paths and I really wanted to know what consulting firms do and how they approach their work.”

This summer Kana will be diving into the complex issue of sustainable palm oil and the incentives and certifications that can encourage sustainable practices in palm oil supply. She expects to conduct interviews with palm oil sourcing experts in the EU and Japan to identify some best practices and leading players in sustainable palm oil.

“Although I am just starting to dig into the topic, I am aiming to find out how sustainable palm oil is procured by companies in Japan, with specific focus on the RSPO certification system and the guidelines/policies Japanese companies have proposed in terms of palm oil procurement. I had learned in my university studies about how palm oil plantations can have a destructive impact on the environment, and I became very curious about how this issue is perceived and being approached in the Japanese food industry. I am excited to dig deeper into this topic and find out the dilemmas companies are facing in sourcing sustainable palm oil, as well as what “sustainable” palm oil really means.”

Of course, as a Team Meros member, Kana works hard, but also plays hard. “I am looking forward to meeting up with my friends to explore izakaya Japanese pubs, especially in some of our favorite Tokyo areas such as Sangenjaya and Gakugei-daigaku. Though I am not a big fan of the humid and burning hot summer in Tokyo with its annoying mosquitoes, I am excited for the summer working at Meros and spending some good quality time with my friends and family. I definitely want to go for a drive whenever possible – I don’t have that many chances to drive in Scotland and I need to keep up my driving skills!  I am also planning to improve my golf game and travel with my family.”

“When I am in Scotland, out of all kinds of Japanese food, what I miss the most is definitely my mum’s homemade dishes like cabbage rolls and hijiki seaweed. I love any kind of cuisine and am always keen to try new foods, but when I am back in Tokyo nothing beats good sashimi and my izakaya favorites like dashimaki tamago, – rolled omelettes made of eggs and dashi. Yum!”

“The State of Biodiversity: Challenges, Solutions and Possibilities” – 2nd Webinar of the J-IIN Natural Capital Series (April 20,2023)

The second session of the Japan Impact Investment Network (J-IIN)’s Natural Capital Series will be held on Thursday, April 20, starting at 18:00 (JST).

 “The State of Biodiversity: Challenges, Solutions and Possibilities” will feature panelists who are active in cutting edge biodiversity initiatives and will discuss the potential of impact investment in the field of biodiversity and share their own perspectives from the field.


Registration link:
(Registration period expired)


Panelists:
– Ms. Debbie Saunders: Founder & CEO: Wildlife Drones – Providing real-time animal movement tracking and integration services using cutting-edge drone technology
– Ms. Rachel Lim: Impact Investment Analyst: Silverstrand Capital – Leading an accelerator program to support start-ups addressing the biodiversity crisis
– Mr. James Fitzsimons: Director of Conservation and Science: The Nature Conservancy Australia – Delivering results in conservation and regeneration in Australia


Our Natural Capital Series has three more events and will continue through the summer of 2023. Together with our partners at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), we will be inviting investors and companies, in addition to TNC teammembers working around the world to discuss critical issues in business and investment in natural capital. Our next three webinars will each focus on the challenges and opportunities on of the following areas: forest land, oceans, and agricultural and pastoral land.


June 2023: Challenges and investment opportunities in forest land
July 2023: Issues and investment potential in the ocean businesses and the growing Blue Economy
September 2023: Issues and business potential in agricultural and pastoral land

Check out Meros’ website and social media and the J-IIN LinkedIn page for updates on future events!


About J-IIN
Japan Impact Investment Network (J-IIN) focuses on supporting entrepreneurs and investors to build impactful, scalable business beyond Japan. Meros is a founding member of J-IIN.


J-IIN was created as a forum for entrepreneurs, investors and supporters of global business with impact to communicate frankly, exploring how global and domestic issues intersect.

Internationally, food and agriculture has attracted the most impact investment attention, but is a sector that has received much less attention in Japan. Meros works with our J-IIN colleagues to raise awareness of global trends in impact investment and business in agriculture and food in Japan and globally.



2023 Guide on Sustainable Management for Food Companies released by MAFF and available now

For the past two years, Meros’ Chisa Ogura has been a member of the expert advisory panel for research commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to support ESG investment in  the Japanese food industry. The research itself was conducted by Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting and was supported by a panel of experts invited by MAFF to provide guidance, including Ms Ogura as an expert in the Japanese food and agriculture industry, major food manufacturers such as Kirin and Meiji, as well as specialists in areas of ESG investing, such as biodiversity.

In March 2023, MAFF released the results of this research – a practical Guide on Sustainable Management for Food Companies, aimed at small and medium-sized food companies in Japan, as they prepare to further address ESG issues. The report is now available here for downloading (in Japanese):


2023 Guide on Sustainable Management for Food Companies

https://www.maff.go.jp/j/shokusan/fund/esgitakuR4.html

The guide covers a range of critical topics, including ESG issues for food companies, sustainable management, governance issues, GHG reduction, human rights, food loss, plastic-free, animal welfare, and biodiversity. The guide is a very useful first introduction to the subject, as it provides a comprehensive overview of key points and background material on these topics.

For each of these environmental and social issues, the report outlines the goals to be achieved, specific measures to be taken, information disclosure methods, and other relevant information. It is expected that major publicly listed food manufacturers, which are required to disclose information on ESG issues, will need to work together with their existing suppliers, who are primarily small and medium-sized companies, to raise the level of the industry as a whole to address ESG and sustainability issues.

The expert advisory panel provided advice on the overall direction of the guide, how to choose priority topics and how to put ESG investment into the context of the Japanese food industry. As the Guide itself was developed, Ms Ogura and the panel advised on the key points that need to be emphasized, especially to small and medium-sized companies, to encourage innovation along the entire supply chain. They also gave recommendations on what may best motivate SMEs in the food industry to implement ESG initiatives and monitor results.

The guide is intended to be used directly by the management and staff of small and medium-sized food companies so that the entire food industry, both major manufacturers and smaller companies, can cooperate more easily by having a better mutual understanding of the challenges and expectations.


This research and the resulting guide is part of MAFF’s goal of increasing sustainable procurement and management throughout the food industry, as outlined in the Ministry’s Green Food System Strategy that was launched in 2021. The Green Food System Strategy aims to improve both productivity and sustainability through innovation throughout the entire food supply chain.