Japanese trader offers dock-to-door delivery

Fishing co-operatives in Japan are now selling directly to consumers by Internet and deliver by parcel service. Encouraging introduction of such services is Yamato Transport Co. Ltd., which provides refrigerated and frozen parcel delivery nationwide.

Web-based seafood traders advertise that they cut out layers of intermediary dealers and shorten time from landing to delivery. Development of online seafood trading is contributing to a decline in registered traders at the public auctions, though the trend is mainly due to increasing retail dominance of supermarket chains, which prefer to contract with producers directly.

Odaya Inc. of Ota City, Shimane Prefecture, markets local finfish and squid through its website to both businesses and homes. Businesses can choose specific species, but for individuals they offer an Omakase (random assortment) Seafood Box. 

Customers choose a JPY 3,500, 5,000, 7,000 or 10,000 box, plus JPY 850 for shipping. The sets vary in the value of the fish rather than in volume. An assortment of four or five types of seafood is included, depending on time of year and landings. Examples include flounder, red sea bream, tilefish and squid. By changing the makeup of the set, the company can keep prices fixed despite changes in the market, while keeping customers interested with variety.

Buyers can order by phone, fax or website. The seafood arrives chilled with ice in a polystyrene box within five days and should be enough to provide about four meals for four people. 

Odaya introduced its system at last month’s ninth annual Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo in Osaka.

Sales Manager Tooru Takuwa said, “You can’t pick the fish you want, but there’s enough variety that there will always be something you like.” The company also provides preparation suggestions to help people who receive unfamiliar seafood.

The scheme is in line with the government’s fisheries policy white paper, which promotes direct sales by fishing cooperatives to boost local incomes. In general, Japanese seafood producers receive only 20 to 30 percent of the retail price when going through the usual auction route.


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