Tuna burger a hit at Japanese chain
By Chris Loew, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Osaka, Japan
01 February, 2010
A tuna burger on the menu at Japan’s MOS Burger chain from 6 January to 8 February has been so well received by customers that the targeted volume of 200 million meals sold out prematurely, the chain posted on its Web site on 22 January.
The Gochiso Tuna Burger costs JPY 320 (USD 3.60, EUR 2.53), and customers can choose between two types of sauce. Japanese actress, singer and model Yuuki Maomi served as a celebrity spokesperson during a MOS Burger marketing campaign last month.
She said the Japanese-style ginger-soy sauce is suitable for men, while women are likely to prefer the lighter Western-tasting bouillabaisse-flavored sauce. Both types have shredded cabbage on a battered and fried tuna fritter, with a white-bread hamburger bun.
Using a play on words with “tuna” (pronounced “tsuna” in Japan) and “tsunagaru,” which means to connect, the campaign’s slogan was, “Connect with your love, with tuna.” Maomi encouraged couples to come in together to each try one.
Product Development Group Leader Kazuo Teramoto chose yellowfin tuna to differentiate the chain from competitors McDonald’s and Lotteria, part of the Korea-based Lotte Group, both of which are featuring bacon in their latest burgers. Lotteria’s Zetsumyo BLT Burger has a 3.5-milimeter strip of thick smoked bacon, while McDonald’s is offering a Texas Burger, featuring bacon with fried onions. McDonald’s is far and away the largest burger chain in Japan, while MOS Burger is second and Lotteria is third.
Yellowfin tuna is suitable for a breaded-and-fried fritter, as it is relatively lean and reasonably priced. The fritters were sourced from fish processor Kanesei Suisan in Shizuoka.
MOS burger, which operates 1,364 outlets in Japan, is known for bringing innovative burgers to market. The current menu also features the Scallop Croquette Burger, Fish Marine Burger and Shrimp Cutlet Burger. An Octopus Cutlet Burger was offered in the Kansai area around Osaka last fall, as octopus cooked in balls of batter (takoyaki) is a local favorite dish.
Sales at fast-food restaurants grew 3.1 percent in Japan last year, while sales for the overall dining industry fell 0.8 percent. Fast food is popular in the tough economy, but one chain recently left Japan. Atlanta-based Wendy’s/Arby’s Group, the third-largest U.S. fast-food restaurant company, was unable to renew a franchise agreement with Wendy’s operator Tokyo-based Zensho Co. and withdrew from Japan at the end of 2009. Wendy’s was the seventh largest Japanese burger chain with 71 outlets.
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01 February, 2010