Mitsubishi-backed spirulina: Brunei’s first producer eyes Japan before going global

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Tabérumo Corp sells spirulina under the same brand name.  ©Tabérumo Corp
Tabérumo Corp sells spirulina under the same brand name. ©Tabérumo Corp

Related tags: Japan, spirulina, Mitsubishi Corporation

Tavelmout Biofarm (TVMB), the first company to open a factory for spirulina production in Brunei, is eyeing commercial success in Japan, with frozen raw spirulina soon to be launched in spring.

The firm is a subsidiary of Japanese biotech company Tabérumo Corp which received  investment amounting to JPY$1.7bn​ (US$15m) from two major Japanese companies - Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) and Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) last year. 

The investments were injected to the construction of the spirulina factory in Brunei.

Since operation commenced last October, the factory is responsible for the entire production chain, starting from spirulina cultivation, packaging, and export.

Located at Darussalam Enterprise Bio-Innovation Corridor Industrial Park in Kampong Tungku-Rimba, the factory has a site area of one hectare and currently employs 11 staff.

Although the factory is located in South East Asia, Japan is the main export priority at present, with plans to go global to follow, Tabérumo Corp’s MD and president Toshiya Sasaki said in response to queries from NutraIngredients-Asia.

Its target is to produce six tonnes of spirulina each month using photobioreactor (PBR) and production capacity is expected to increase year on year.

‘TVMB will be increasing the production capacity yearly, and the maximum production volume after expansion of the facility is expected to reach 1,000 tons by 2024.’

The factory in Brunei will produce frozen raw spirulina – said to be the first of its kind in the world – and also seen as ‘more appealing to the global markets’, ​where powdered spirulina are some of the more commonly seen formats.

The product can be mixed with food or drinks. 

Leading the growth in Japan

Toshiya said that the consumption of spirulina was becoming more common in Japan. Moreover, there are some companies which have started to engage celebrities, such as Yasuko Matsuyuki to endorse their spirulina products.

The company currently supplies spirulina to about 50 companies in Japan and commercial negotiation with 10 other companies for selling of the new frozen raw spirulina product is underway.

‘We intend to lead the growth of spirulina market in Japan,’​ Toshiya said.

Halal market

The company received the halal certification from the Brunei authorities during November last year.

Toshiya said the company planned to ride on the waves of a ‘booming global halal market’ ​by applying for the certification.

The company will also register the Brunei halal brand that it has received in the Middle Eastern, European and the rest of ASEAN markets.

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