Food Waste at Konbini Store

Posted on Jul 27, 2009 in Hiroko's Blog

While I was in Japan I have attended a food event as a panelist at the Asian Studies Conference Japan that was heald at Sophia University in Tokyo.  During the conference I attended a lecture given by a University professor whose theme was the food that thrown away after the sell-by-date, shohi kigen, at konbini stores.  According to the professor the number of thrown-away konbini bento reaches a staggering 19 millions tons every year!  In order to investigate this situation closely, the professor worked as a part-timer at one konbini store in his neighborhood.  One of the tasks given to him was managing the bento boxes, including sandwiches and rice balls, displayed in the refrigeration cases.  He was instructed to remove unsold items from the case several hours before its expiration time.  Everyday unsold items were stacked up in the office of the manager and they were registered as a loss.  As the professor observed, the manager feeling guilty about creating a loss (the chain store has to bear the cost), keeps couple of boxes for himself for lunch, and sometimes takes additional boxes back home for his family.  Every day goes on like this and this cycle builds up pen-up stress for the manager and creates his or her health problems such as ulcers, diabetes and other illness (remember that bento is full of chemical additives).  For customers the dangerous side of konbini bento is over-shadowed by convenience and low price.