kiyo Yasuda writes in asia.nikkei.com that Tokyo-based Euglena, a biotech venture formed by the University of Tokyo, is expanding overseas operations. The producer of algae-based products started selling supplements in Singapore and cosmetics in Macau last month.
At an earnings briefing in Tokyo recently, Euglena’s President Mitsuru Izumo stressed that the company is steadily making progress to achieve its medium-term sales target of 30 billion yen/yr. (US$270 million) by September of 2020.
The company’s net profit fell 29% on the year to 300 million yen for the six months through March. Although advertising and other costs increased, the company has maintained its profit forecast for the full year, said Mr. Izumo, thanks to an increase in regular mail-order customers, which rose about 40,000 from the end of last September, to 190,000.
In the face of stronger domestic competition, Euglena is pinning hopes of growth on its overseas operations, which launched in China in 2015 and is expanding in Southeast Asia. The company has not disclosed overseas earnings, but sales are estimated at around several tens of millions of yen. “Our overseas sales are still small, but we want to boost sales so that they can contribute to profits,” said Mr. Izumo.
The Company’s Okinawa production facilities have obtained halal certification, allowing the company to sell its products in Muslim countries. The biotech venture also hopes to sell algae-based jet fuel overseas, and expects commercial use of the fuel by 2020.
Construction of Euglena’s pilot algae biofuel plant in Yokohama will start on June 1. The new plant, which carries a 5.8 billion yen ($52.3 million US) price tag, is scheduled to produce 125 kiloliters of algae biofuel a year. “(Our plants) cannot be compared to oil plants,” said Director Akihiko Nagata. In order to make algae biofuel a viable alternative for airlines, the plants must be vastly larger than the pilot in Yokohama, he said.