JA Aizu-Yotsuba teams with Yoshimoto Kogyo to promote farm produce sales in western Japan

8 July 2018

JA Aizu-Yotsuba, a group of farmers in the Aizu region, southwestern Fukushima Prefecture, is set to promote branding of local farm produce in partnership with Yoshimoto Kogyo Co., an entertainment conglomerate based in Osaka, in an attempt to step up sales in the Kansai region centering on the western Japan city. The cooperation program was endorsed by Yoshimoto when JA Aizu-Yotsuba head Kazuo Hasegawa visited its head office and Osaka headquarters in Osaka city on July 7.

The group, an Aizuwakamatsu city-based chapter of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives group (JA), will set up an “Aizu Yoshimoto farm” (tentative name) in the Aizu region to cultivate rice, vegetables and other crops in cooperation with popular entertainers in a bid to expand consumption of local agricultural products in a campaign featuring the showbiz giant’s name. JA Aizu-Yotsuba plans to expand sales channels to regions other than Kansai in the future so as to help stabilize management of member farmers.

The branding scheme will be launched in fiscal 2019 beginning next April. Under the plan, farmland of member farmers cooperating for the project will be used as contracted farms. Yoshimoto entertainers will engage in planting and harvesting while farmers will take care of routine cultivation to ensure product quality. Targeted for production are a variety of farm produce, including cucumbers and edible rice, both abundantly shipped to the Kansai region, as well as asparagus popular in the Aizu region.

Playing a leading role in the campaign among Yoshimoto entertainers will be Sanpei (Tomoyuki Sanpei), a comedian based in Fukushima Prefecture (a native of Motomiya city, central Fukushima). He will participate in a sales campaign dubbed “Natsu Matsuri (summer festival) of Aizu,” scheduled for August in Tokyo, and a hands-on harvesting experience in Aizu this fall, among other activities, emphasizing the partnership between JA Aizu-Yotsuba and Yoshimoto.

The local JA group intends to cooperate with 17 municipalities in the Aizu region, promoting their products and, at the same time, sending out their tourism information to help boost regional economic activity.

During his Osaka visit, Hasegawa met with Atsuo Nitta, executive managing director of Yoshimoto Creative Agency, a Yoshimoto subsidiary responsible for the management of entertainers. “We would like to borrow Yoshimoto Kogyo’s transmission capability and power of laughter in publicizing the attractiveness of our products and tourism across the country,” Hasegawa told Nitta. Given Yoshimoto’s emphasis on its support for Fukushima’s reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, Nitta said his group “would like to team up with JA Aizu-Yotsuba in sending out local information throughout the country.”

(Translated by Kyodo News)