CBH’s man in Tokyo nurtures relationships

Cally DupeCountryman
CBH marketing and trading regional manager for Japan Mike Karube.
Camera IconCBH marketing and trading regional manager for Japan Mike Karube. Credit: Cally Dupe

The bustling streets of Tokyo are a world away from the sprawling grain farms of WA, but CBH’s grower members are never far from Mike Karube’s mind.

Mr Karube has worked as CBH’s marketing and trading regional manager for Japan for the past 11 years. He is one of CBH’s two marketing and trading staff based in Tokyo.

From there, he travels to Perth three to four times a year with customers, and to Seoul two or three times a year to meet South Korean customers.

A big part of his role involves generating profit for WA growers through the trade of Australian wheat, building new relationships with market participants in Japan, keeping an eye out for potential opportunities and providing information back to CBH.

“My job is to promote grains and oilseeds in Japanese/South Korean market for WA growers, market grains and oilseeds in Japanese/South Korean market for WA growers, sell grains and oilseeds in Japanese/South Korean market for WA growers and return the value to WA growers,” Mr Karube said.

“I usually start my work at 7am and finish at 5pm. I work, work and work for WA growers.”

CBH has had an active marketing and trading representative in Japan for the past decade.

It also employs two permanent marketing employees in the Hong Kong offices, and two in Perth.

All together, about 15 CBH Marketing and Trading employees service over 200 customers in more than 30 markets.

Mr Karube was born into agriculture, growing up on a rice farm 100km north of Tokyo with a father who was the managing director of a local agricultural cooperative.

He later studied science and economics at a university in Tokyo.

“I think working for a farmers’ cooperative organisation is my true vocation,” he said.

Mr Karube has worked at CBH for 11 years, and joined the WA-based cooperative after working for Japanese farmers’ cooperative Zen-Noh for 25 years, which included spending four years in Australia and six years in Germany.

“I was the representative of Zen-Noh Sydney during 2004 to 2008,” he said. “Grain Pool (ex-CBH Grain) was my closed counterpart on feed barley trade.

“As I was so involved in the business with WA growers through Grain Pool, I finally got the Zen-Noh office moved from Sydney to Perth. After completion of its moving to Perth, my assignment with Zen-Noh Australia was over.”

Upon returning to Tokyo, Mr Karube received a phone call from Grain Pool, which offered him his current position as wheat marketer in Japanese market.

“It was the time of deregulation on wheat in Australia after the single desk of AWB was removed,” he said.

“It was my exciting challenge to develop Japanese wheat market for WA growers as CBH employee.”

Mr Karube said he learned a lot about cooperatives while working at Zen-Noh.

“Loyalty to farmers... because you are working for farmers’ co-operative organization, such as CBH and Zen-Noh, you always think of the benefit of your owner farmers,” he said.

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