Steady growth and success11/21/2007 The Japanese Torigoe Seifun milling group celebrated its 130th anniversary this year. The group’s development, which specializes in the production of French flours, is closely associated with Bühler. Torigoe Seifun is a highly successful Japanese flour milling group. It is known throughout Japan espe-cially for its French bread flours, but also for a number of other products such as noodle flour and bak-ery premixes. Torigoe Seifun operates various factories across Japan. Its headquarters are located in Fukuoka in the south of the country. The company, formerly a family-run business, has been listed on the Tokyo stock exchange as Torigoe Co. Ltd. since 1962.
From rice trader to flour producer
The origins of the current Torigoe Seifun Co. Ltd. date back to the Hikozaburoh Torigoe company, which was set up in 1877 as a rice trading business. As its small wheat and barley mill in Yoshii devel-oped, it finally abandoned rice trading in 1940. In 1953, its two mills were rebuilt after a fire. Torigoe Seifun made a large stride forward when it launched specialty flours under the “France” brand on the Japanese marketplace for making French bread. Another step was the construction of a premix pro-duction plant in Yoshii. In 1972, Torigoe Seifun built a new flour mill in Hiroshima with a capacity of 200 tons per 24 hours. This was followed in 1975 by Japan’s first rye mill in Yoshii. After another pre-mix production plant went into service in Osaka in 1978, a new mill with two 170-ton grinding lines each went into operation in Fukuoka in 1982. Up to its 130th anniversary this year, three further ex-pansion stages followed: in 1990 the building of a premix plant in Tokyo with three mixing lines; the acquisition of the Terahiko Seifun mill in Shizuoka; and the construction of the new headquarters in Fukuoka.
Investing in quality
From 1990 onward, Torigoe Seifun stopped focusing merely on growth and the construction of new facilities. Instead, it started investing heavily in the qualitative improvement of its existing factories. Thus, in 1995, new wheat cleaning systems were installed in the factories in Hiroshima and Fukuoka. In 2006, the flour mill in Hiroshima was improved by equipping it with a new cleaning system and the NOVA plansifter sieve system. At the same time, the flagship of Torigoe Seifun – its mill in Fukuoka – was provided with new Newtronic roller mills, impact detachers, and the new NOVA sieve system. The emphasis in both projects was not only to renew the mechanical equipment, but at the same time to also improve the flow chart in line with the latest flour milling trends.
In order to satisfy the rapidly changing needs of the Japanese market, Torigoe Seifun also continu-ously develops new flour types. The latest innovation is a rye flour named “Helgoland.”
Investing in people
The former President of Torigoe Seifun and current Chairman of the Board, Mr. Yoshiharu Yamashita, was the first Japanese to attend a milling trade school in Europe. As a side product of his specialist training in Germany, Mr. Yamashita is now fluent in German. Mr. Yoshiharu Yamashita returned from Europe with something else: The insight that the training and continuing education of employees is key to success. As a consequence, Torigoe Seifun invested in particular in the training of its employ-ees. Junior staff is regularly delegated for basic training to Switzerland and Germany. Experienced specialists continue their education in the Bühler Training Center in Uzwil. Moreover, a special training program has been set up together with Bühler for the plant operators. Experience proves the benefits of this differentiated training program.
Bühler as a partner
Torigoe Seifun selected Bühler as a partner for its milling and premix activities early on in its history. The purpose was not only the supply of plant and equipment, but also the provision of “soft factors” such as process technology and engineering expertise. Thus, Torigoe Seifun was also the first mill in Japan to apply MJZG impact detachers for destroying insect eggs in flour. The close symbiosis of Torigoe’s product knowledge and the production solutions from Bühler have allowed Torigoe Seifun to evolve into a successful milling and premix business. This collaboration will be continued to ensure the success of both partners.