Fisherman Japan promotes online sales amid lockdown

Published on
April 29, 2020

With restaurant sales depressed, some Japanese fishermen are turning to online sales for home delivery as an alternative sales channel.

Fisherman Japan, based in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, is an organization formed by young fishermen to promote consumption of seafood from the Sanriku area of Japan (northeast Honshu Island). The group includes Sanriku fishermen, fish shops, and chefs. Restaurants that use their products – some located in Tokyo – are also listed on their webpage.

The organization has an online shop, where it sells fresh seafood that is not normally found in supermarkets, such as whole flounder, fat greenling, and gurnard. It offers a two- or three-kilogram box of its recommended fish for between JPY 3,240 and JPY 4,860 (USD 30.35 and USD 45.39, EUR 27.88 and EUR 41.86) respectively, including tax. Other offerings are oyster sets, wakame seaweed, scallops, silver salmon, and sea pineapple.

It also posts YouTube videos and weekly Zoom classes by professional chefs teaching how to judge, cut up, dress, and cook unfamiliar fish. Cooking at home has increased during the government request to stay at home, but many people do not know how to prepare less-familiar fish. The online instructions are meant to overcome this barrier.

Recently, the trend in the Japanese seafood trade is to make seafood easier to prepare and eat by offering ready-to-cook fish, such as boil-in-bag boneless fillets with sauce. Easy preparation, no bones, and no smell are considered as the keys to sales amid the Westernization of diets and a rise in working women with less time and experience in the kitchen. A box of whole unfamiliar fish requiring heading, gutting, and filleting goes directly against this trend, but may be suitable for the current lockdown situation in Japan, as people are looking for culinary projects like baking bread from scratch.

Sales of seafood are depressed in Japan, because restaurants are asked to close by 8 p.m. as a measure to control the spread of the coronavirus. In interviews on Japanese television, restaurant operators have reported about 10 percent of the usual number of customers. In particular, demand has fallen for more expensive items that tend to be consumed when eating out.

As a comparison of current prices to last year at the same period, at Tokyo’s Toyosu Market on Friday, 24 April, 2,890 kilograms of flounder were sold in the range of JPY 756 to JPY 1,404 (USD 7.04 to USD 13.08, EUR 6.50 to EUR 12.08). This compares with Friday, 26 April, last year, when a similar amount – 2,404 kilograms – was sold, but in a price range of JPY 864 to JPY 2,160 (USD 8.05 to USD 20.12, EUR 7.43 to EUR 18.58).

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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