Oyster vending machine builds buzz in Japan
Hiroshima, Japan-based Farm Suzuki has turned to direct sales has a sales boost following disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Farm Suzuki specializes in Claire oysters, a type of oyster finished in “Claire ponds,” or former salt-evaporation ponds. The method imitates one used for centuries in the Marennes-Oléron region of France. Because the oysters eat green algae that grows in the brackish ponds, the oysters’ gills turn green and they acquire a sweet flavor.
With Japan's foodservice sector battered by the pandemic, the company has focused on selling its product at its shop in Hiroshima and online for direct-to-consumer deliveries.
To attract attention to its direct sales efforts, which give the company higher mark-ups, it has introduced a few off-beat marketing efforts. In 2021, the company introduced oyster vending machines selling fried oysters, raw oysters on the half-shell, and raw tiger shrimp – another of the company’s products – complete with microwave to reheat the fried oysters.
While the concept of seafood vending machines aren’t exclusive to the company – a Dutch company has a mussel vending machine, for example – the company’s machine gained notoriety quickly, and it was featured on the Japanese government’s Twitter.
There are currently two machines operated by the company. One is located in the Toranomon Hills Business Tower in Tokyo and the other is in a souvenir shop in Hiroshima.
Another innovative, though slightly risqué, buzz-builder was the release last year in Japan of the fashion line “The World is My Oyster” that is said to be “inspired by the beautiful emerald-green Claire oyster.” The fashion line consists of underwear with an oyster-shell pattern fringed with green ruffles, and while the company debuting the line is separate from Farm Suzuki, it refers to its oysters.