- A Japanese whaling company is opening vending machines to drive up demand for whale meat.
- The machines will sell whale sashimi, whale bacon, whale skin, whale steak, and canned whale meat.
- Prices range from 1,000 yen, or $7.70 to 3,000 yen, or $23.
A Japanese whaling company hopes to drive up demand for its product by offering whale meat in conveniently placed vending machines throughout Japan, the Associated Press reported.
Kyodo Senpaku Co. recently opened three machines in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, that offer a wide range of whale meat: whale sashimi, whale bacon, whale skin, whale steak, and canned whale meat.
Costs range from 1,000 yen or $7.70 to 3,000 yen or $23, the AP reported.
The most inexpensive option for whale meat would be the equivalent to the price of about a pound of bacon in the US, which costs about $7.21 as of 2021, according to Statista, a market data company.
Konomu Kubo, a spokesperson for Kyodo Senpaku, told the AP the company aims to open 100 locations in five years, especially near supermarkets where the meat is no longer sold, often due to pressure from anti-whaling activists.
Whaling in Japan today is a tight-knight industry, with one operator and a few hundred people, according to the AP.
The country ceased commercial whaling in 1987 after it joined the International Whaling Commission. However, the country continued to hunt for whales, claiming it was in the name of scientific research, according to the BBC.
Critics said the research was a cover-up to continue to hunt for whales, which were still being sold on the market.
“The issue is not the vending machines themselves but what they may lead to,” Nanami Kurasawa, head of the Iruka & Kujira (Dolphin & Whale) Action Network, told the AP.
Kubo told the news outlet that the company wants to fill a demand from people who want to eat whale meat but can’t find it.
Although whale meat has been present in Japanese culture for thousands of years, eating whale accounted for less than 0.1% of total meat consumption in recent years, according to Fisheries Agency Data, the AP reported.
Kyodo’s latest operation also adds to Japan’s ever-abundance of vending machines that line the country’s alleyways, convenience stores, and residential and commercial areas.
In Japan, products can range from the mundane (coffee, soda, tea, cigarettes) to more niche offerings like fresh bananas, fish stock, and hot foods.
According to Statista, the country had about 4 million vending machines as of 2021, which actually represents a decrease in the number of machines.