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Japanese company sells whale meat in vending machines


One Japanese whaling The company unveiled vending machines offering whale sashimi, whale steak and whale bacon in Yokohama on Tuesday in hopes of recovering sales of a food that has declined from long and shunned by many supermarkets.

Wearing a whale hat, Kyodo Senpaku President Hideki Tokoro greets potential customers at the company’s newest “drone store” – a trio of vending machines in Motomachi, an upscale shopping district concentration of fashion boutiques and artisan bakeries.

The company recently set up two similar stores in Tokyo, plans to open a fourth in the western city of Osaka next month, and hopes to grow to 100 locations within the next five years.

“There are many big supermarkets that are afraid of being harassed by anti-whaling groups so they won’t use whales. So there are a lot of people who want to eat whale meat but can’t,” Tokoro said at the launch.

“So we’re opening stores thinking we can provide a place where those people can eat and drink.”

A customer buys whale meat from a vending machine in Yokohama, Japan, January 24.

The products sold mainly contain whales caught in Japan, with prices ranging from 1,000 yen ($8) to 3,000 yen ($23), a company spokesman said.

Although the government maintains that eating whales is an honorable part of Japanese cultureConsumption peaked in the early 1960s and has steadily declined as other protein sources became available and affordable.

Government data shows that whale meat consumption in Japan will reach just 1,000 tons in 2021, compared with 2.6 million tons for chicken and 1.27 million tons for beef.

At its peak in 1962, the annual consumption of whale meat was 233,000 tons.

A new customer bought

Conservationists say the moves to promote whale meat are desperate attempts to revive interest in a struggling business.

“Most Japanese have never tried it. So how can it be what you call national culture if no one is actually involved in it?” Katrin Matthes, Japan policy head for Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), a global charity.

The International Whaling Commission – a global body that oversees whale conservation – is banned Commercial elephant in 1986 after several species were nearly extinct.

But Japan keep hunting whales for what it says is research purposes. It withdrew from the IWC and resumed commercial whaling in 2019.

Some passersby near the store said they were willing to eat the whale meat, but they would not make special efforts.

“I’m not going to try to come (buy it). I usually eat chicken,” said Urara Inamoto, a 28-year-old customer service worker.

Whale meat advocates point to its high protein content and low carbon footprint compared to other meats.

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