Japanese local farmers go online to sell direct overseas buyers

TOKYO, June 23 — Japan’s agriculture ministry has launched an online shopping site that connects local growers and food makers with overseas buyers directly.

In January, the ministry set up the site “Washoku Treasure,” named after the traditional Japanese cuisine, a site that specializes in Japanese-grown foods. It will soon update the site, including simplifying the payment.

The site gives overseas restaurant chefs and buyers a way to search for food produced in Japan and buy it directly from Japanese farmers and food makers.

In essence, it’s a virtual market with Japanese local foods for sale, from produce to meat to seafood. Japanese growers create lists describing what they’re selling; overseas chef and buyers peruse them and place orders.

Japan’s Toppan Printing Co. and Agri holdings Inc. operate the site and offer services such as translating farmers’ lists from Japanese to English and shipping the order to overseas buyers.

Farmers and food makers who want to use the site pay 48,000 yen to register the first item. From the second item and after, they pay 24,000 yen per item. The site doesn’t charge any fee per order.

As of the end of March, the site has 89 farms and food makers with more than 240 items and 246 registered overseas buyers, according to the ministry.

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