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Sajo, The Next South Korean Global Tuna Player?

South Korean seafood company Dongwon is not alone in its conquest to be a global player in the tuna business. Sajo Industries, owner of the largest tuna long-lining fleet in the world, is becoming a stealth competitor.
Sajo started as an independent tuna fishing company in 1971 and has since expanded with numerous affiliates in South Korea. It extended its international reach in 2003 when it established Tantar, a joint venture in Russia, and in 2004 when it acquired Sajo Haepyo (formerly Shindongbang) for canned tuna distribution. Now a USD 1 billion (€776.6 million)-plus turnover conglomerate, it is also the second largest player behind Dongwon in its sales of canned tuna on the home front.
Most recently, Sajo expanded its tuna long-line business to high value fishing regions that include Mozambique and the Solomon Islands, according to a report published by the research firm Responsible Research last year. Sajo has also upgraded all its long-liners with a low price oil-using system and it has invested in two additional purse seiners.
While Dongwon acquired Starkist in the US in 2008 and currently intends to acquire a 50% share of Calvo Group, Sajo continues to make headway in the European and Chinese markets through its collaborations with Sajodaerim and Oyang Corporation.
Though Sajo’s investment efforts are relatively timid at the moment, they could soon be high profile if Sajo targets any number of deteriorating companies in Europe or the US.
Overseas expansion, however, will place more scrutiny on the company and its practices. Sajo already made headlines in August 2011 for the alleged human abuses occurring on board its vessels in New Zealand.
Asian companies, in general, must become more accountable and be willing to both adopt and disclose sustainable fishing methods if they wish to succeed globally in new markets.