Japanese C-Stores Want to Cut Food Waste

Consumers and store operators see the benefits of avoiding throwing out unsold food.

May 30, 2019

TOKYO—Convenience store chains are recognizing the importance of cutting back on food waste nationwide, according to The Japan News.

Starting in the fall, Seven-Eleven Japan Co., will launch nationwide the practice of selling discounted bento meals and onigiri rice balls that are nearing expiration. Buyers will receive shopping points equal to price reductions, thus altering the practice of selling products only at fixed prices.

Franchisees for Japanese convenience store chains are experiencing many challenges, including the costs of trashing unsold products, a national labor shortage and rising personnel costs. Selling goods at fixed prices is regarded as one of the defining features of Japanese c-stores, and offering discounted food products is uncommon. Currently, food loss in Japan is estimated at 6.43 million tons annually, which includes ordinary household waste.

These waste-reduction efforts are being introduced after many consumers expressed concern over the mass disposal of unsold ehomaki sushi rolls, which are traditionally eaten on the night of a religious festival called Setsubun.