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FISHLLE!: A Household-oriented Subscription Service Specializing in Underutilized Fish

A Fukuoka-based startup challenging reform in the distribution structure of Japan's fishing industry

Benners Co., Ltd.
(Fukuoka Prefecture)

FISHLLE!: A Household-oriented Subscription Service Specializing in Underutilized Fish


Fish that do not circulate in the market due to various reasons such as being non-standard in size, not widely known, requiring laborious cooking, or only being consumed in specific regions are referred to as “underutilized fish.” Against this backdrop, Mr. Tsuyoshi INOKUCHI, representative of Benners Co., Ltd (Benners), a startup company in Japan’s Fukuoka Prefecture, launched the service “FISHLLE!” in March 2021 with the mission of “enriching everyone involved in the fisheries industry.” The service sources underutilized fish from fishermen, processes them at their factory, and delivers them to households across the country through subscription. This service, which allows anyone to enjoy delicious fish at home using underutilized fish, has gained significant traction just three years after launch, effectively addressing social issues and improving economic circulation.

Successful outcomes

  • As of February 2024, FISHLLE! handles 120 species of underutilized fish, with a monthly procurement volume of approximately 23 tons.
  • FISHLLE! launched its service in March 2021 with its membership rapidly increasing. The cumulative number of members was 1,000 in 2021, 6,000 in 2022, 12,000 in 2023, and over 20,000 in 2024.
  • Monthly sales revenue is approximately 50 million yen (as of February 2024).
  • The company contributes to increasing the income of fishermen by purchasing their underutilized fish.

Supplementary information:
The number of fish species confirmed in Japanese waters is approximately 3,800, with about 150 species being caught. A total of 16 species account for 80% of the domestic catch. The domestic catch volume was 4.23 million tons in 2020, with approximately 30% (1.55 million tons) being underutilized.

The key to success in a societal business

FISHLLE! was conceived in March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, the concept was to sell processed products using non-standard seafood and vegetables via frozen food e-commerce. With just a two-month preparation period, a crowdfunding campaign was launched, raising approximately four million yen. Through crowdfunding, test marketing was conducted, allowing further refinement of the concept, leading to the official release of FISHLLE!, focusing solely on seafood.

Mr. INOKUCHI comments: “We insisted on the subscription model where customers leave the contents up to us. This allows for easy revenue forecasting and business planning, as well as achieving more-efficient procurement tailored to demand, fostering good relationships with producers.”

While the business model and social contribution concepts are groundbreaking, the secret to success lies in the commitment to consistently deliver delicious products to consumers. By meticulously performing tasks such as bleeding and “nerve sealing” with the same care as premium fish, even previously mishandled fish become incredibly tasty, to the surprise of fishermen. Furthermore, Benners has developed 120 proprietary checkpoints in the product development stage and established operations nationwide in Japan with partner companies at 10 locations to handle processing, seasoning, and instant freezing in a single day at their own factory.

Mr. INOKUCHI comments further: “We are completely committed to processing fish caught in the local area. This not only ensures freshness but also helps cut logistics costs and reduces our carbon footprint.”

Moreover, the company introduces consumers to environmental issues in fisheries, the current situation of underutilized fish, and producers through social media, their own website, and letters packed in regular deliveries.

Mr. INOKUCHI continues: “Sustainability is not just a problem for fishermen—it’s a problem that everyone in the distribution chain, processing manufacturers, and consumers should work together to address. Even if fishermen are considering sustainable fishing methods, without proper recognition from consumers, there won’t be much added value achieved. Therefore, we believe that it’s necessary to make consumers understand the current state of the ocean and then to encourage them to eat fish.”

Additionally, Mr. INOKUCHI, who never neglects listening to consumer feedback, conducts surveys and immediately incorporates that feedback into product development for improvement. Unpopular flavors are discontinued, and new ones are added through trial & error.

Benners, which is also considering overseas expansion in the future, plans to expand completely into the food & beverage industry by 2024, venturing into new businesses. Mr. INOKUCHI says: “There are still many underutilized fish that haven’t been discovered by FISHLLE! There is a market for as many consumers as the market can provide. By using fish from various regions and expanding the service, we want to increase fish lovers nationwide in Japan.”


Benners Co., Ltd.

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