Fukushima to play direct role in pitching its produce in Tokyo-area supermarket

15 January 2017

[Translated by The Japan Times] To fight harmful rumors about Fukushima farm produce and to revive sales, the prefectural government plans to set up permanent sales spaces for susceptible products in major supermarkets in the Tokyo metropolitan area this summer.

The prefectural government has been trying to improve sales by emphasizing the results of radiation tests proving the products are safe. But supermarkets are still reluctant to sell Fukushima produce even six years after the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The prefectural government will now focus on establishing sales channels and making sure Fukushima-made produce is treated the same way as produce from other prefectures. It will provide funds to hire sales staff to promote the products and to offer perks to those who buy them.

To recover the sales channels lost after the 2011 meltdowns, prefectural officials have judged it necessary to directly support distribution in addition to publicizing the radiation tests to prove Fukushima produce is safe.

“We will take drastic measures to boost distribution of prefecture-made food products to recover and explore sales channels,” said Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori at his first news conference of the year on Jan. 4.

The prefecture plans to start the project in about 10 supermarkets in the Tokyo area before expanding to other stores after gauging public response. Fruit, vegetables, rice and meat produced in Fukushima will be sold at those locations and promoted by staff offering free samples. Prefectural officials may also try to generate interest by offering Fukushima products for free via lotteries.

The prefectural government plans to reach out to supermarket chains for proposals on how they would set up these dedicated promotional spaces. It believes retailers can benefit from the project because they can expect an increase in customers and sales by selling the produce with incentives attached.

Fukushima plans to invest part of the ¥4.7 billion in rumor-squelching funds allocated in the central government’s fiscal 2017 draft budget on projects aimed at improving its image.

“We will ask for the acceptance and cooperation of supermarkets so that sales sections and channels for Fukushima-made products lost after the Great East Japan Earthquake can be regained,” said an official of the Farm Produce Distribution Division.