THE JAPAN NEWS-YOMIURI – “One day, fried oysters may replace hot dogs as America’s favorite food,” said oyster farmer Takashi Suzuki, his eyes shining.
The 45-year-old president of Farm Suzuki in the city of Osakikamijima, Hiroshima Prefecture, developed a fried oyster vending machine to promote the local specialty worldwide.
The first vending machine was installed in Nagasakiya, a souvenir shop in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, in January last year. Shoppers tap an LCD panel on the machine and pay with a credit card to receive a box of frozen fried oysters.
The machine is equipped with a microwave so they can be eaten right on the spot. Reheating fried oysters is considered “taboo” in the industry, but Suzuki wants to challenge that view.
Suzuki has long wanted to find a way to sell oysters directly to overseas consumers without going through middlemen.
“I couldn’t afford to open a restaurant, but I thought maybe I could do it with a vending machine,” he recalls.
He started developing the machine four years ago. To try something no one else did, he fried oysters and flash-frozen them. They may not be quite on par with freshly fried ones, but he said, “I’m sure there’s a need to make them easier to eat.”
This touchless sales channel is working well amid the pandemic. The machine only accepts e-payments and Suzuki remotely monitors sales and stock levels.
His second vending machine is in Tokyo, on Floor B1 of the Toranomon Hills Business Tower in Minato Ward. Machines will be installed in Singapore and Hong Kong this year, and eventually in the United States and France, he hoped.