Keisuke Nakao is the fifth generation of his family to run the Nakashin business, which was established in Japan almost 150 years ago. In the late 90s, Keisuke’s father looked at ways of securing the business’s supply chain and it was decided that Nakashin should consider a move to the Philippines.

“We have two factories in Japan,” Keisuke explains. “And back when we started the business in the Philippines, most of the food suppliers that we used in our Japanese factories were dependent on supplies from China. So, in order for us to have stability and quality of supply, we decided to expand our factories from the head office in Japan. The Philippines was the choice from five options that the family considered. Finally, my father decided to locate here.”

The choice of location has paid dividends for the business, and also meant a shift in product offering. Taking advantage of the abundance of fresh, sweet tropical fruits available on Mindanao—particularly mango, pineapple, and banana—Nakashin Davao has turned away from fish and marine products to focus more on frozen fruit and desserts.

“Our first priority is making sure our employees are happy, and improving their lives—at the same time ensuring the longevity of the company itself.

“Therefore, we have several strategies in place to achieve this. We are dependent on our current product—frozen fruit processing where we buy the best fruit in the Philippines, cut it to the required size, freeze it, and then deliver it to our clients. We have made sure that we have the best factory, but we are still very much dependent on the raw materials, so we are now trying to step up the manufacturing side—producing value-added products, such as mousse, ice cream and desserts. That’s our direction and priority for the next five years,” Keisuke says.

It’s not the first time that the business has shifted direction, meaning Keisuke is not afraid of change. Each generation of the Nakao family has taken it in a new direction to ensure that the company not only survives, but thrives. “In terms of expansion into new markets, we don’t change the target market by country but we do change the target consumers—we target the customers themselves as possible new markets for our products. We will stay here in the Philippines for the fruit, but we may expand into other countries for other products or another type of business, depending on the current market. In previous generations, no-one was holding onto the same type of business.”