TOKYO, March 17 – The National Federation of Agriculture Cooperative Associations (JA ZEN-NOH), the marketing arm of Japan’s agricultural cooperative (JA) group, and Norinchukin Bank, the group’s financial arm, announced on March 16 that they have signed a business tie-up deal with Itochu Corporation and FamilyMart Co., Ltd. on sales and product development of farm produce.
They will cooperate on boosting sales of homegrown agricultural products at FamilyMart convenience stores. They are also planning to make FamilyMart’s cashless payment app FamiPay usable at the JA group’s facilities including farmer’s stores.
JA ZEN-NOH and Norinchukin Bank acquired FamilyMart’s stocks worth 57 billion yen — 10 billion yen by JA ZEN-NOH and 47 billion yen by Norinchukin Bank — equivalent to 4.9 percent of the firm’s shares.
Under the deal, JA ZEN-NOH aims to sell fresh fruits and vegetables at FamilyMart stores.
Because elderly people have difficulty traveling, “there is high demand for purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables at nearby convenience stores,” an official at JA ZEN-NOH’s new business promotion division said.
They will work on creating a new distribution mechanism linking convenience stores with JA’s stores.
FamilyMart has expressed intention to purchase sweet potatoes to sell as roasted products and tomatoes and lettuces to be used in sandwiches.
JA ZEN-NOH hopes to propose to FamilyMart to switch to homegrown products for other agricultural items as well.
Since FamilyMart has some 16,600 stores nationwide, securing sufficient supply will become a challenge.
“We hope to guarantee a continued supply by securing producers with the help of JAs,” the JA ZEN-NOH official said.