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Dissecting the sushi supply chain
Move over Godzilla, Toyota Camry, and Sony Playstation: Sushi is the latest Japanese export to conquer the world. The delectable rice and seafood treats seem to be everywhere lately, from high-end bistros to the corner store.
Sushi seems to be everywhere in print, too, as two new books and a flock of recent magazine and newspaper articles have sought to demystify its worldwide appeal. The books, The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy by Sasha Issenberg and The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, from Samurai to Supermarket by Trevor Corson, also present sushi as the embodiment of the globalization of both business and consumer tastes. To support that view, the authors discuss how this extremely perishable product makes its way to market, from fishing boat to dinner plate—what you might call the sushi supply chain.
Whether you're a raw-fish fan or not, it's gratifying any time the general public gets an idea of what logistics and supply chain management are all about. For those of us in the business, though, some stories in the books will cause teeth to grind and heads to shake. One example: Bluefin tuna that was caught in the North Atlantic, flown from Boston to Tokyo, auctioned off, cleaned and sliced into blocks, and then shipped by air express to chefs who serve the still-fresh delicacy to diners in—you guessed it—Boston.
[Source: Sasha Issenberg, The Sushi Economy: Globalization and the Making of a Modern Delicacy, PEnguin Group, 2007; and Trevor Corson, The Zen of Fish: The Story of Sushi, From Samurai To Supermarket, Harpercollins, 2007.]
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