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Seven-Eleven releases glass shrimp, firefly squid products to boost central Japan pref.

New Seven-Eleven Japan products using local specialties of Toyama Prefecture are displayed in the Toyama Prefectural Government building on June 17, 2020. On the left is pasta using firefly squid taken from Toyama Bay, and next to it are rice balls containing Japanese glass shrimp tempura. (Mainichi/Shunsuke Takara)

TOYAMA -- Convenience store giant Seven-Eleven Japan Co. has developed a new line of food products using local specialties of the central Japan prefecture of Toyama in an attempt to contribute to the region amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A decline in demand for the Toyama Prefecture specialties of Japanese glass shrimp and firefly squid has been seen since this spring, mainly at high-class eateries, amid moves to refrain from going outdoors to prevent the spread of the virus. The prices of these items have dropped greatly, and glass shrimp fishing was even temporarily suspended during the extended holiday period.

The new products created by Seven-Eleven Japan are an "onigiri" rice ball with a Japanese glass shrimp tempura filling, priced at 160 yen before tax, and a seafood pasta dish containing firefly squid, sold for 480 yen before tax. The shrimp and squid used in both products are caught in Toyama Bay.

Development of the food products came quickly, after Seven-Eleven Japan approached the Toyama Prefectural Government, with which the company has a comprehensive collaborative partnership, and obtained cooperation from the Toyama prefectural federation of Japan Fisheries Cooperatives.

Seven-Eleven Japan Co. Executive Officer Kazutake Iinuma visited the Toyama Prefectural Government on June 17. "Although we are currently facing harsh times, we would like to continue our efforts with local producers and other parties," he said.

Toyama Gov. Takakazu Ishii praised the initiative, commenting, "Prices have been going down this year. I am very grateful."

According to Seven-Eleven Japan, the rice ball product was made based on the image of a mini rice bowl with tempura. The soup stock for the pasta uses the broth left over after boiling the firefly squid, and is said to have a rich flavor. The rice balls will be sold from June 23, and the pasta dish will be sold from July 15 at 7-Eleven stores in the prefectures of Toyama, Ishikawa, Fukui, and Niigata.

(Japanese original by Shunsuke Takara, Toyama Bureau)

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