The developer of “Almost XX,” a well-known “rating” magazine, talks about his surprising history. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The developer of “Almost XX,” a well-known “rating” magazine, talks about his surprising history.

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Almost Crab can be delicious…

Kanetetsu Delicatessen Foods (hereafter “Kanetetsu”) has featured “Almost Almost Squid” as a paste product that looks exactly like squid in the March 22 broadcast of “Celebrity Ratings Check BASIC – Spring 3 Hour Special” (TV Asahi).

The reason for the success of the development was not to “make it faithful to the real thing” but to “bring it closer to the taste of memories… (from Kanetetsu Delicatessen Foods’ website)

In Kanetetsu’s “Almost 00” series, “Almost Ikura” has just been released as a new product for 2022 and has become a hot topic. Kanetetsu’s official website shows that the company is putting so much effort into this major pillar that the copy “Almost or Not Almost” suddenly appears, but why and when did the company become an “almost-zero” company? We asked Kanetetsu.

2012 In 2006, a company-wide project was launched to “make the crab cakes closest to snow crab in the world.

While sales in the fish paste industry as a whole are strong in the fall and winter, we focused on “kani-kama,” which sell well in the summer and are eaten by people of all ages.

Furthermore, at the time, the poor catch of snow crabs was becoming noticeable, and we predicted that crab, a luxury food, would become increasingly hard to find on tables in the future, so we thought that if we could make crab cakes that were close to real crab, we could meet the hidden needs of our customers. So we invested in equipment and launched a full-scale project. Mr. Kato, Marketing Department)

Although it was a huge project with a large capital investment, only one person actually developed the “Almost Crab” flavor.

After gaining experience manufacturing fish paste products in the production department, Hiroshi Miyamoto volunteered to be transferred to the development department, saying, “If I don’t make it, they should fire me.

I thought it would be easy,” he says, “but I struggled a lot (laughs).

First of all, I ate a lot of crab cakes from other companies and real crabs to get a taste of existing crab cakes and real crabs, respectively.

We repeated prototypes while checking the amino acid component, which is the umami component of real snow crab, through physical and chemical analysis, but in the meantime, the equipment was being discussed every minute, so it was a solitary and rushed process.

Moreover, even if we could determine the chemical values, even if we made the product faithful to those values, it would not taste as good as the real crab.

Crabs actually do not have a very strong taste, but are characterized by a kind of aroma of the rocky shore and the flavor of the sea. When we tried to artificially create a crab that was faithful to the values, the bitter taste and fishy smell became more pronounced,” says Miyamoto.

In 2014, the third generation of crabcakes, “Almost Crab,” was born! Photo shows the package at the time of release

When we restored and made it faithful to the data, …… was not good enough!

This is when we came up with the idea of a major change of course: to “bring the taste of memories closer to the taste of the past”.

There are flavors that you remember eating when you went on vacation, right? In order to bring the taste closer to the impact of the first time I tasted it and the image of the taste beautified by the memory, I simply put, I exaggerated the umami component.

However, this did not go smoothly, and for a while there was a period of time when I went off on my own, trying to get closer to the taste of my memories. Then, I decided to find out “what everyone thinks is a good taste” based on objective physical and chemical analysis. With the help of our colleagues around us, we conducted a series of blind tests in which we did not reveal the answers, but asked them to eat the food and give their opinions. We repeated the exchange of “it tastes like a crab” and “it tastes like a crab,” and we created the product.

It also took a lot of time to make the taste closer to the one I made by hand in the prototype and the one actually made by the machine in the factory, because they were very different at first. 2014 By the time it was completed in 2006, I had probably eaten enough crab to last a lifetime, so I don’t really want to eat crab anymore, but I can almost taste crab,” says Miyamoto.

Crabcakes 3rd Generation “Almost Crab” … did not sell at all at first

By the way, did you know that there are actually “generations” of crab cakes?

The straight stick type is the first generation, the breakable type is the second generation, and “almost crab” is the third generation. While other companies were ahead of Kani-kama, Kanetetsu’s “Almost Crab” was a latecomer to the market, but its catchy name became the talk of the town, and it topped sales among authentic crabcake types.

The importance of naming is once again apparent in the fact that Ken Murakami, the current chairman and president at the time, immediately adopted the name based on a proposal that came up during a project meeting.

The naming also caused a lot of stir within the company in various departments.

In the first place, there were many who said, ‘Is it safe to say that it is almost crab?’ There were also those from the sales department who said, ‘Won’t our customers be upset that we are joking around?’ The quality assurance department said, ‘Won’t our customers misunderstand that it is crab?

However, we devised various ways of doing things, and as a result, they allowed us to do so, which led to the product becoming a hit, and I think that is the culture of our company (laughs).

There is actually a story behind why “it didn’t sell at first.

The story behind why “it didn’t sell at first” is actually as follows. The product samples are usually ready about three months prior to the meeting, and the sales representative brings the samples to the meeting. We still didn’t have a sample a month ago.

We are launching new crab cakes. The sales representative went to the business meeting with a flier with almost no information such as “Almost Crab” or “Almost Crab,” but naturally there were many rejections at the door. Because of this situation, when the product was first launched, only a few of our close customers were willing to deal with the product.

It is more correct to say that we did not sell well, but rather that we did not have a lineup,” said Kato.

The “Almost 00” series is a social networking site that gets excited every time a new product is introduced. All photos are of the “Almost 00” series.
New product for 2022 is “Almost salmon roe

Almost scallop, almost fried shrimp, almost salmon roe… “What’s next for ‘almost’?

However, the catchy name took on a life of its own on social networking sites, and from there, inquiries increased and orders grew, so you never know what you’re in for. Since Almost Crab was launched in 2014, Almost Scallop, Almost Fried Shrimp, Almost Fried Oyster, and Almost Eel have become popular series, with new products being made at a rate of one per year.

When we created Almost Crab, we didn’t think it would become a series.

But the response was so great that customers asked, ‘What’s next for Almost? I was asked, ‘I thought this was the end, but now the days of hell are starting again,’ and the pressure was on. …… (laughs).

So we decided to make the Almost Series a series that solves customers’ food problems in the same way that the initial concept of Almost Crab was ‘to make soaring crab prices inexpensive and available to everyone.

When Almost Scallop came out, scallop shells were soaring in price. Almost Fried Shrimp was based on the idea of making fried shrimp that even people with shrimp allergies could eat, and Almost Fried Oysters expanded in the same way, asking if we could offer oysters that would not hit them,” says Miyamoto.

There have been a number of cases in the past where preparations for commercialization were underway, but the plan was abandoned midway through the process. In fact, the “Almost There” project has been rejected twice, and was born after overcoming the risk of being abandoned.

There have been many cases in the past where plans for commercialization were abandoned in the middle of preparations.

Since it takes a lot of time and effort to develop a product, isn’t there a reversal phenomenon where it is cheaper to buy the real thing?

Yes, there is. Almost all eels are exactly like that, and sometimes real eels from China and other countries are more affordable, but it is important to note that we did not use actual eels, which are endangered, but instead gave them the texture and flavor of eels, and that it is more nature-friendly than eating real eels and preserves natural resources. It is also our desire to

Almost Eel is made by mixing and molding surimi, steaming it once, and then baking it with sauce at an eel factory. This is more than twice the process and time-consuming as broiling real eels, so the cost is inevitably higher than that of the real thing.

However, even those who do not like the muddy smell of eel’s unique flavor sometimes say they can eat and like almost eel,” says Mr. Iguchi, who is in charge of almost eel development.

It is indeed a luxury food, but considering that some people do not like it, wouldn’t it have been better to name it “beyond eel” rather than its alternative “almost eel”?

Sure, that’s good too. In fact, some people say that almost crab tastes better than crab,” said Mr. Kato.

Furthermore, development, which was once done by one person in charge of one product, is now done by teams. Mr. Miyamoto is also the initiator of this change.

First, we started a nationwide survey to find out what our customers’ needs and concerns were, and then we started a team competition to decide what would be good for the next “Almost 00” product. I declared that I would publish the “Almost Series” on a regular basis (laughs).

Since all development members are involved in the development of the Almost Series, many new ideas for the Almost Series are generated, and team cohesion is strengthened as all members, even those who are usually in charge of administrative work, work in the prototype room to create products, plan, and make presentations. I hope to make this kind of fun activity a good tradition in Kanetetsu’s development.

  • Interview and text Wakako Tago

    Born in 1973. After working for a publishing company and an advertising production company, became a freelance writer. She interviews actors for weekly and monthly magazines and writes drama columns for various media. His main publications include "All Important Things Are Taught by Morning Drama" (Ota Publishing), "KinKiKids: Owarinaki Michi" and "Hey!Say!JUMP: When 9 Tobira Open" (both from Earls Publishing).

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