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Algamar: Finding competition and friendship in Japan

Nov 21, 2016


Founded in 1960, Algas Marinas SA (Algamar) was a pioneer in supplying Gracilaria seaweed to Japan, where the ingredient is known as ogonori and goes into making kanten or agar.

Algamar CEO Miguel Depolo

After developing an efficient production process in the mid-1960s, Algamar was able to compete with traditional agar producers in Japan and sell it around the world. And some two decades later, the company became one of the world’s largest producers of agar.

“We owe Hiroshi Tsukakoshi, the founder and current chairman of Ina Food in Nagano Prefecture, a significant part of our success. At the start of our relationship back in the early 1970s, there was fierce competition for seaweed as a raw material. Tsukakoshi was most generous with his wise advice and constant support,” said CEO Miguel Depolo.

Today, Algamar accounts for around 50 percent of Japan’s agar imports, which

are used in making traditional delicacies such as tokoroten, mitsumame and yokan, to name a few. Algamar allowed Ina Food, as exclusive distributor of Chilean agar in Japan, to take a 10 percent stake in the company.

“That is why when you ask me about our company’s relationship and experience with Japan, I need to start always by saying that it is a story of competition, cooperation and friendship,” Depolo said.

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Chile 2016 was prepared for and originally printed in The Japan Times Newspaper.

PDF of the printed report

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