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

Convenience stores in Japan asked to cut mass disposal of festive sushi rolls

Packs of "ehomaki" sushi rolls, made in large quantities every year, are seen in the city of Oita on Feb. 3, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuki Imano)

TOKYO -- A labor union on Feb. 1 submitted a written request to Japan's three major convenience store chains asking them to improve the disposal loss of "ehomaki" sushi rolls, which are discarded in large quantities every year after the Setsubun festival that falls on Feb. 3 this year.

    The SDGs Union, which aims to solve the food loss problem, submitted the request to Seven-Eleven Japan Co., FamilyMart Co. and Lawson Inc. At a press conference held afterward, the union revealed the results of a survey that showed 40% of convenience store workers who had experienced food disposal had quit their jobs due to the stress of having to discard the food items.

    Kotaro Ogita, chairperson of the union, pointed out that "forced sales quotas" on convenience store managers and clerks are a factor in waste loss. He emphasized that "the system of convenience store operations in which unsold products are not included in the cost as losses but shouldered by the member stores is fueling the waste."

    Kotaro Ogita, left, chairperson of the SDGs Union appeals for the issue of food loss associated with "ehomaki" sushi rolls during a news conference in Tokyo on Feb. 1, 2023. (Mainichi/Mami Yoshinaga)

    The union asked the three convenience store operators about their sales quotas and waste volumes of ehomaki, but they all responded that they didn't fully know how individual stores operated regarding these issues.

    The survey on food waste and other related topics, initiated by the union last September, has so far been answered by 109 workers at convenience stores and food factories. In the free response section, comments included, "It was very hard to push away the feeling of 'mottainai' (regrettable wastefulness) for the sake of work," and "I felt guilty as if I were committing a crime."

    It is a custom to eat an ehomaki sushi roll on Setsubun, facing the direction that will bring you good luck for the year, while making a wish and eating it without saying a word.

    (Japanese original by Mami Yoshinaga, Lifestyle and Medical News Department)

    Also in The Mainichi

    The Mainichi on social media