Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Baked sweet potato vending machine in southwest Japan to link agriculture and welfare

Sunao Matsuoka of Nofuku Sangyo holds a pack of baked potatoes taken out of a can in Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture, on April 8, 2021. (Mainichi/Shunsuke Ichimiya)

MIYAKONOJO, Miyazaki -- A vending machine stocked with baked sweet potatoes was placed in this southwestern Japan city on April 8 in a project linking agriculture and welfare.

    The rare vending machine introduced by Hyuga-based company Nofuku Sangyo is stocked with potatoes baked and canned by disabled people working at factories in the prefectural cities of Hyuga and Nobeoka, who receive a portion of the profits.

    It is located along Route 10 at 3 Kamikawahigashi, Miyakonojo, Miyazaki Prefecture. In March, the company also set up another machine at the Oita Matsuoka rest stop on the Higashi-Kyushu Expressway in Oita.

    Yuji Kodama, 66, president of Nofuku Sangyo, was thinking about how to utilize the approximately 1 hectare of farmland he had inherited from his late father. Then he came up with the idea of selling baked sweet potatoes from a vending machine, which would allow disabled people to work even on rainy days without incurring additional labor costs. With the cooperation of Sunkey Co., a vending machine sales company based in the city of Kagoshima, he built a special machine.

    It looks like an ordinary vending machine, but when you put money in it and push the button, an aluminum can with a pack of baked Beniharuka sweet potatoes inside pops out. Buyers can choose between hot and cold products, priced at 500 yen (about $4.5) for the regular 190 grams and 400 yen (about $3.6) for the 110-gram portions. Empty cans placed in the collection box next to the vending machine are reused.

    Sunao Matsuoka, 66, a sales representative of Nofuku Sangyo, commented, "People could use the canned potatoes as preserved food or gifts, as they have a shelf life of one year."

    (Japanese original by Shunsuke Ichimiya, Miyazaki Bureau)

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media