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Japan's refrigerated food vending machines popular amid epidemic

Japan's refrigerated food vending machines popular amid epidemic

Vending machines selling frozen food and ingredients, from sashimi to Western-style cakes, are popular with consumers in northern Japan to reduce the risk of virus transmission amid the new crown epidemic, allowing operators to expand sales channels.

According to Kyodo News on 16, in a residential area of Sapporo City, Hokkaido, fish wholesaler "Chiba Fisheries" set up a vending machine selling boneless fish, selling fish including salmon and mackerel, the price ranges from 300 yen to 1,500 yen per copy. Akiyuki Nagai, 49, bought a pound of salmon fillets from the vending machine late last month. He said, "It's nice to be able to decide what to buy without having to make contact with a person."

Chiba Fisheries previously supplied fish mainly to nursing facilities such as hospitals and school cafeterias. The fish wholesaler launched a vending machine in August that sells frozen, pre-prepared fish for consumers to buy and cook at home, as the epidemic caused the canteens to close.

Confectionery company Climbing has also launched several vending machines in Sapporo, selling a variety of Western-style cakes that require refrigeration for 500 yen (28 yuan) each. The company, which previously supplied mostly hotels and catering companies, started the vending machines in April due to the epidemic and now accounts for a quarter of the company's total sales.

In the Hokkaido port city of Otaru, people can buy about 40 types of frozen meats from the vending machines, the most popular of which are slices of lamb that can be used for traditional local grilled meats.

Since the end of September, in order to comply with new local disease prevention regulations, a yakiniku restaurant in Sapporo has also placed multiple vending machines selling frozen ingredients outside the store to make it easier for consumers to buy and grill them at home.

Japan's Sanken Retail Cold Machine Systems said it produced refrigerated food vending machines almost everywhere in Japan as of the end of August. A staff member said, "With the new crown epidemic, we hope the vending machines will be used by many businesses as a new way to sell." 

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