Fukushima eyes Japan's No. 1 position in GAP certification of safe food

The Fukushima prefectural government has decided to promote some locally produced farm, forestry and fisheries products, including rice, cucumbers, tomatoes and peaches, as priority items with the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) food safety certification which it will seek to supply to the athletes' village during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The local government intends to stage a full-fledged campaign urging major catering companies to buy Fukushima-produced food in serving athletes and other participants, starting with a business meeting with related concerns on July 19 in Tokyo. In the campaign, Fukushima will call for use of its products whose output ranks high among Japan's 47 prefectures and whose supply is stable. These products include cucumbers, boasting the largest volume of shipments to the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market on a prefectural basis in the summer-autumn season (July-October), and peaches from the second-largest crop in Japan. Fukushima will invite about 100 people to the business meeting, including those from major catering firms, hotels and restaurants, using the first shot of the campaign to publicize the attractiveness of prefectural products. It will also sponsor a tour of production sites in Fukushima this fall for participants in the meeting in an effort to promote their understanding of product safety, marred by the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant, and ensure successful business deals. The prefecture hopes to use the Tokyo Olympics as an opportunity to establish a practice for food-related businesses to buy Fukushima products routinely, eventually paving the way for post-Olympics marketing routes at home and abroad. Meals at the athletes' village are to be provided by catering companies selected by the Tokyo 2020 Games organizing committee. In choosing food ingredients, they are required to meet procurement standards specified by the committee, including GAP and Marine Eco-Label (MEL) domestic certification given to fisheries products hauled with emphasis on seafood resource conservation. Fukushima and the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives group's branches in the prefecture are pushing ahead with a program seeking to achieve Japan's No. 1 prefectural position in terms of the number of GAP-certified products, a move with food supply to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in sight. Under the program, its promoters will work steadily to acquire GAP certification for summertime agricultural, forestry and fisheries products. Ahead of the campaign launch, the prefectural government, organizations of producers and other parties concerned set up a "Fukushima Pride: Food Action Promotion Council" at an inaugural meeting in Fukushima city on June 20 to enhance the endeavor. "We will make efforts to increase GAP certification and, while publicizing the safety of our food, have our farm produce enjoyed by people from Japan and abroad during the Tokyo Olympics," Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori told the gathering as he expressed his resolve to spur the blitz. "We would like to establish an environment where local agricultural products can secure retail shelf space even after the Tokyo Olympics." ■Main farm, forestry and marine products to be given priority in the promotional campaign designed to ensure supply for the Tokyo Olympics: Rice, cucumber, asparagus, tomato, Japanese white radish, spinach, bell pepper, eggplant, corn, beef, pork, chicken (Kawamata brand "shamo" and Aizu brand "jidori"), peach, grape, flounder, whitespotted conger, abalone, surf clam, bonito. (Translated by Kyodo News)