Press ReleasesNippon Paper Group, Inc. Establishes a Facility to Produce Cuttings of Sunrouge,
a High-Function Tea, in Amagicho, Kagoshima (Tokunoshima)
Increasing Production of Promising New Species to Lead the Market for High-Function,
Next-Generation Food

Nippon Paper Group, Inc.

Nippon Paper Group, Inc. (President: Yoshio Haga) announces the establishment of a facility to produce a cutting plantlet at the Amagicho Agricultural Center in Tokunoshima, Kagoshima prefecture, for the purpose of increasing the production of cuttings of Sunrouge (Note 1), a high-functional, next-generation tea. In addition, Tokunoshima Branch Office has been set up in the AgriBio Business Promotion Office (Corporate Planning Division), a group assigned to execute this project, on June 1 to commence operations at the production facility.

Through research and development of afforestation technology, Nippon Paper Group has cultivated a photoautotrophic culture technology (Note 2) for increasing cutting plantlets. This technology has been used to facilitate the cutting of plantlets and to expand the Group's agri-business. To date, the Group has produced and marketed seedlings of horticultural crops (e.g., cherry trees and eucalyptus for flower arrangement) and teas. The Group's tea seedlings, most notable Sunrouge, have earned high acclaim.
Sunrouge seedlings had been difficult to grow. Having studied a quick mass production technology since 2008, Nippon Paper Group finally devised a method for efficiently and consistently producing seedlings. Because of this, the Group is receiving more inquiries from tea producers around the country.
Production of cutting plantlets of Sunrouge has been based in the Group's Komatsushima Branch Office (Tokushima prefecture). Furthermore, we have decided to set up a new facitlity in Amagicho (Kagoshima prefecture) to rapidly meet demands for Sunrouge following the introduction of Amagicho Agricultural Vision (Note 3). Amagicho is a town with a warm climate suitable for growing Sunrouge. This makes it possible to improve the system for consistent supply of Sunrouge seedlings and to expand commercial cultivation.

Nippon Paper Group is pursuing the potential of trees and is developing a broad range of businesses to comprehensively utilize wood resources. Among these businesses, the agri-business is expected to help enlarge the business domain of the Group's operations. The Sunrouge project remains the core of the agri-business as in addition to the production of other seedlings, the Group develops new materials for supplements, food, and beverages utilizing the functionality of Sunrouge with the aim of creating new demand for tea.

  1. Note1:Sunrouge
    Sunrouge is a new species of tea. Nippon Paper Group cultivated it in cooperation with the National Institute of Vegetable and Tea Science at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization using the Group's proprietary photoautotrophic culture technology. Sunrouge works against fatigue and stress through the synergy of catechins contained in regular teas and anthocyanins, or plant-derived functionality ingredients. As a next-generation high-function tea, Sunrouge is expected to help create new demand for teas. Unlike green Japanese teas, Sunrouge contains abundant anthocyanins, a red pigment. So it is characterized by the reddish leaves. In the Innovation-Generating Fundamental Research Advancement Program (Applied) (FY2008 to FY2010), Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution performed a test of Sunrouge in man and reported that it was effective in saving eye strain.
  2. Note2:Photoautotrophic culture technology
    Photoautotrophic culture technology is the method of inducing the natural photosynthetic ability of the plants by applying high levels of CO2, water, and light, rather than sugar acting as energy in the culture medium. Besides having contributed to the establishment of technology for the mass production of pollen-free cedars (production of their seedlings was said to be very difficult), the system is utilized in the biodiversity conservation activities undertaken by Nippon Paper Group, including the conservation of plants that are rare and indigenous to the Ogasawara Islands and are designated as endangered species, and also the conservation of precious cherry trees with historic value.
  3. Note3:Amagicho Agricultural Vision
    The municipal government of Amagicho developed the Amagicho Agricultural Vision with the aim of promoting agriculture in this area. In line with this vision, the cultivation of sugarcanes, stockbreeding, and fruit gardening are encouraged and joint management with Sunrouge is implemented together with other initiatives. According to the Vision, the target figure for agricultural production in 2014 is 4.5 billion yen.