Fukushima farmers launch online blitz for produce hit by coronavirus epidemic

The Fukushima Prefectural Headquarters of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives (Zen-Noh) has embarked on a project to develop new sales channels based on the internet to promote the consumption of local agricultural and livestock products that have seen a slump in demand mainly due to consumers being discouraged from dining out amid the coronavirus epidemic. One idea broached is the creation of new menus using prefectural produce by seeking cooperation from cooking researchers and other people active in the Tokyo metropolitan region. It calls for these recipes and charms of Fukushima produce to be conveyed to consumers through a blog. The Fukushima chapter of Zen-Noh is starting the blog for the first time in partnership with a popular cooking site known as “Recipe Blog.” It has commissioned the role of a Fukushima food monitor to 10 cooking professionals, including researchers and housewives experienced in home-style cuisine. The monitors, active from May to February next year, will write on the blog their self-created meals and recipes based on the “koshihikari” variety of rice from the Aizu region and other Fukushima products, including beef, cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches and pears. The chapter intends to draw attention to the tastiness of prefectural products and inspire blog readers to buy them. According to the Fukushima group, some local farm products have experienced plummeting prices with lower demand in the aftermath of continued restaurant shutdowns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. How to step up consumption is a challenging issue as summer draws near when farm produce shipments increase. Meanwhile, consumers are being urged to refrain from non-essential outings and avoid the “three Cs” of staying in confined, crowded and closed environments, making it difficult to stage taste-and-buy campaigns at markets and mass merchandise stores. These factors have led the group to judge it necessary to use an internet-based marketing strategy. “The trend of eating at home is gaining momentum in the wake of voluntarily refraining from dining out,” says an official of the Fukushima headquarters. “We would like to send out information widely on the attractiveness of prefectural food ingredients and raise the level of their consumption.” Cuisine based on Fukushima produce can be seen on the “Recipe Blog” site by entering the phrase “Fukushima Cooking Ambassador” in Japanese on the top page. (Translated by Kyodo News)