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!”

Welcome back, Kana! Second-year summer assistant!

Summer is here and that means….Kana is back!  Kana Yamada is back for her second year as a summer research assistant. Kana just finished her third year at Wellesley College in the US, where she is a political science and music major, and has returned here to her hometown of Tokyo to continue her work with Meros.

“I wanted to come back to Meros for the summer because I had such a rich experience as an summer research assistant last summer. At the time I had barely any knowledge of consulting nor profound insights into the agriculture and food industry, but through the opportunity of joining some actual projects, I was able to learn research methods, ways to organize data, and how to conduct interviews. But the primary reason was that everybody on the Meros team is very welcoming, work-efficient, brilliant, and became my role models. The warm community enabled me to learn and grow, and as a second-year intern, I am hoping to be able to help the Meros team even more compared to last year.”

This summer Kana will be digging into the background of Japan’s new Green Food System Strategy and sustainability trends in trade and sourcing in the food and agriculture supply chain. “This summer, I am working on a research project on Japan’s new Green Food System Strategy. As the world is facing severe environmental challenges due to climate change and the agriculture industry in Japan has been stagnant for years, the Strategy is seen as a driver for a building a more sustainable society and more resilient supply chains. I am intrigued to see how the policy can (or cannot) be a trigger for a change and how the Japanese food industry will transition to a stronger and more sustainable system.”

Kana also plans to use the summer to plan for the future. “Some things I am looking forward to doing this summer are meeting up with friends and looking for jobs. I had not been able to see my friends as often recently as the COVID situation was very unstable with the new variants appearing. As many of my friends are already in their last year of college, I am hoping to see them and catch up with what has been going on with their life. In addition, I hope to use my summertime to clarify what job I would like to do after graduating college. Along with attending some career forums, I think working at Meros will enable me to meet people from many companies, industries, and positions, which would be an inspiration in figuring out what (and where) I see myself working in the future.

Welcome back, Kana! We look forward to your positive energy and contributions!

Join us for the Tokyo launch event of the AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund! ( May 11, 2022 18:00-20:30)

On May 11, 2022 Agfunder co-founder Michael Dean and John Friedman, Director of AgFunder Asia, will be coming to Tokyo for the launch event of the new AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund. The Fund had its first close in March 2022 at $10 million USD, with Meiji Holdings and Asahi as the anchor investors. The launch event will include a discussion of the rapidly growing global and Japanese food and agritech investment scene, as well as a chance to meet and socialize with agrifood tech enthusiasts. The event will be held in person at CIC Tokyo with online participation also welcome. Please join us! Register at the link below.

Accelerating Sustainable Food and Agriculture Innovation for the Future

Time:  May 11, 2022, 18:00-20:30(Seminar 18:00-19:30, Networking 19:30-20:30)

Registration:  https://agritechevent.peatix.com/

Location: CIC Tokyo (Online participants will be able to join the seminar by Zoom link.)

Charge: Free

Capacity: The in-person event is limited to 50 participants but online participation is always welcome

Seminar Topics: The global agritech and food tech scene, Japan’s position in the global market, AgFunder’s activities in Asia and the role of its GROW Impact Accelerator, the development of the AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund

This event is hosted by SDG Impact Japan with the support of AgFunder and Meros Consulting.

About the AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund: The AgFunder SIJ Impact Fund is a joint vehicle of sustainable investment  company SDG Impact Japan and Singapore-based VC AgFunder Asia Pte Ltd. (AgFunder Group. The agritech and foodtech investment fund will invest globally in promising agrifood tech start-ups who are addressing the most critical sustainability challenges in the global food system. Start-ups of interest include those advancing a more sustainable food system by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mitigating food loss, improving soil and crop monitoring and increasing efficiency and productivity through biotechnology and digitalization. The Fund also aims to connect Japanese agri-food start-ups with overseas investors and will assist overseas start-ups in expanding their businesses into Japan and throughout the Asia Pacific. The fund made its first close in March 2022 at $10 million USD, with Japanese food conglomerate Meiji Holdings and brewery major Asahi Group Holdings as the anchor investors.