Japanese firm puts whale meat on sale in vending machines

A Japanese whaling agency unveiled merchandising machines providing whale sashimi, whale steak and whale bacon in Yokohama on Tuesday in hopes of reviving gross sales of a meals lengthy in decline and shunned by many supermarkets.

Carrying a whale-shaped hat, Kyodo Senpaku President Hideki Tokoro greeted potential prospects on the agency’s newest “unmanned retailer” – a trio of merchandising machines in Motomachi, an upmarket buying district house to style boutiques and artisan bakeries.

The agency has lately arrange two related retailers in Tokyo, plans to open a fourth within the western metropolis of Osaka subsequent month, and hopes to develop to 100 areas over the subsequent 5 years.

“There are numerous main supermarkets which can be afraid of being harassed by anti-whaling teams so that they gained’t use whale. So there are a lot of individuals who need to eat whale however can’t,” Tokoro mentioned on the launch.

“Due to this fact, we’re opening shops with the thought that we will present a spot the place these individuals can eat.”

The merchandise on sale primarily comprise whale caught in Japan, an organization spokesperson mentioned, with costs starting from 1,000 yen ($8) to three,000 yen ($23).

Although the federal government maintains that consuming whale is a cherished a part of Japan’s tradition, consumption peaked within the early Sixties and has steadily declined as different protein sources grew to become obtainable and inexpensive.

Whale meat consumption in Japan totaled simply 1,000 tonnes in 2021, in contrast with 2.6 million tonnes for rooster and 1.27 million for beef, authorities knowledge confirmed.

At its peak in 1962, annual whale meat consumption was 233,000 tonnes.

Conservationists say strikes to advertise whale meat are determined makes an attempt to revive curiosity in a struggling enterprise.

“Most Japanese individuals have by no means ever tried it. So how can it’s one thing you name a nationwide tradition if no one’s actually collaborating in it?” mentioned Katrin Matthes, head of Japan coverage for Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a worldwide charity.

The Worldwide Whaling Fee – a worldwide physique which oversees whale conservation – banned business whaling in 1986 after some species got here near extinction.

However Japan continued looking whales for what it mentioned had been analysis functions. It pulled out of the IWC and resumed business whaling in 2019.

Some passers-by close to the shop mentioned they might be open to consuming whale however they wouldn’t make a particular effort.

“I wouldn’t exit of my technique to come (purchase it). I normally eat rooster,” mentioned Urara Inamoto, a 28-year-old customer support employee.

Whale meat advocates level to its excessive protein content material and low carbon footprint in contrast with different meats.