Message from ZEN-NOH Representatives
Unite, Our Challenge, Our Future
Having had the baton passed on to us after 50 years of successfully overcoming challenges, we have started running for the next 50 years
We wish to offer our sincerest thanks for the tremendous cooperation and support that the businesses of ZEN-NOH Group have received.
“Agriculture is the foundation of the country”
Japan’s agricultural sector not only provides people with a stable supply of food but also plays multiple roles in terms of disaster prevention and mitigation, and land conservation. It has helped to nurture Japan’s rich traditional culture, including a wealth of regional cuisines and local festivals, as well as the country’s beautiful scenery that changes with the seasons. Agriculture is one of the sources of Japanese identity.
At the JA Group and at ZEN-NOH, a unit of the JA Group, we believe that we have a mission to preserve this identity into the future by supporting communities, and the farmers and co-operative members who are engaged in agricultural production in those communities.
The fiscal year 2021 is the last year of ZEN-NOH’s three-year Medium-Term Plan: “Unite, Our Challenge, Our Future,” and so this is the year in which we are bringing this Plan to a conclusion. Besides working constantly to transform ourselves, we are also continuing to boldly take on the challenge of developing new business areas.
This three-year Medium-Term Plan set out five top-priority measures.
The first top-priority measure is the establishment and strengthening of the production base. Japan’s agricultural production base is weakening due to the decrease in the number of producers, and the aging of producers. To address this issue, ZEN-NOH is providing labor support measures and training of agricultural workers, introducing agricultural ICT systems, developing necessary infrastructure, and reducing the cost of production materials.
The second top-priority measure is to secure our position as a leading brand for food products. ZEN-NOH is working on market-focused product development in collaboration with manufacturers and customers by strengthening merchandising functions, promotion of contract farming, and direct sales to consumers. We are also striving for the enhancement of sales capabilities utilizing diverse channels such as JA Town (ZEN-NOH’s e-commerce business, which is growing steadily), and proactive formation of alliances.
The third top-priority measure is the strategies for overseas markets. In order to expand exports of domestic agricultural and livestock products, ZEN-NOH is forging tie-ups with local enterprises, developing dedicated export-oriented production areas, and opening sales sites in priority countries and regions. ZEN-NOH is also working to ensure stable procurement of production materials and raw materials such as fertilizers and feed grains from overseas.
The fourth top-priority measure is the support for building vigorous local communities. To maintain and strengthen the “lifeline” infrastructure that supports people’s lives in local communities, ZEN-NOH is working to develop and strengthen business infrastructure such as A-Coop retail store companies and the fuel supply systems, and to develop the home energy business, with electricity supply as its core element.
The fifth top-priority measure is the strengthening of support for local co-operatives (JAs). ZEN-NOH has been helping JAs to address issues in their procurement/marketing business and to establish operations to meet producers’ various business needs, by working closely with JAs in a wide range of business conditions.
In addition to these five top-priority measures, ZEN-NOH has also been responding flexibly to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and on the food and agriculture environment in Japan, and has been working to address various social issues, in areas from production through to consumption. In addition, ZEN-NOH has started utilizing digital transformation to adjust its business model.
ZEN-NOH also recognizes the importance of addressing environmental issues – including the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and of the decarbonized society – as an important top management issue. To realize a sustainable Japanese food and agriculture supply chain, ZEN-NOH is collaborating not only with the Japanese government and with the JA Group, but also with other business enterprises, and is proceeding with initiatives to adjust its businesses from an environmental perspective.
ZEN-NOH was founded on March 30, 1972. At that time, Japan was coming towards the end of a period of rapid economic growth. ZEN-NOH started its business as the consolidation of the National Federation of Purchasing Divisions of Agricultural Cooperatives (Zenkoren) and the National Federation of Marketing Divisions of Agricultural Cooperatives for Marketing (Zenhanren), with the mission of ensuring a stable supply of food for people, dealing with the globalization of the business, and enhancing the incomes and quality of life of agricultural cooperative members. At the time of ZEN-NOH’s founding, its management team are reported to have set the following six goals, in order for ZEN-NOH to realize its mission.
1. Establish an integrated production and sales system, and promote coordinated business development.
2. Further strengthen sales capabilities in urban areas.
3. Foster dramatic improvement of members’ living conditions.
4. Build integrated logistics systems.
5. Develop new business areas – including expansion into food processing businesses – and new business methods.
6. Expand and strengthen the planning, survey and information gathering functions.
ZEN-NOH’s history is the continuing taking on of challenges based on these six goals. Our generation, who have had the baton of tradition passed on to us from our founders and are now relaying the baton to the next generation, will continue to take on new challenges, and work together with producers, government agencies and business partners, so that ZEN-NOH will remain indispensable over the next 50 years.
We hope that we will continue to receive your cooperation and support in regard to the operations of the ZEN-NOH Group in the future.