Tokyo’s major wholesale food market in Toyosu in Koto Ward is struggling to stem the decrease in the amount of fish traded there, as it marks a year after relocating from Tsukiji.
The Toyosu market, which opened on Oct. 11, 2018, after a two-year delay due to contaminated soil at the site, celebrates its first anniversary Friday.
At around 40 hectares, the market dubbed the new “kitchen of the country” is about 1.7 times the size of the former Tsukiji market in Chuo Ward in the capital. With its state-of-the-art enclosed facility, the market prides itself on its high-quality sanitation and temperature management.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has managed to prevent harmful rumors about the site’s safety by implementing additional measures to combat the contaminated soil, and the Toyosu market has been running smoothly since its opening.
However, the market is failing to increase the amount of traded fish, which has been in constant decline, even since the Tsukiji era. The market saw about 220,000 tons of fisheries transactions in the first eight months of 2019, slightly lower than in the same period the previous year at Tsukiji.
The downtrend is making it even more difficult for the Toyosu market to achieve a transaction volume of 620,000 tons in fiscal 2023, a goal set by the metropolitan government before its opening and a figure far higher than what the Tsukiji market saw before its closure.
The downturn is fueled by poor catches in seasonal fish. According to a wholesaler at Toyosu, saury catches this autumn have been especially hit hard, with deliveries from Hokkaido and other parts of the country to the market standing at about a fifth of the year-before level at Tsukiji. Autumn salmon and squid catches have also been sluggish, leading to intermediate wholesalers and restaurant buyers lamenting the lack of specialty items on offer.
However, not all wholesalers are pessimistic about the outlook for the market.
“Right now, it is more important to respond to consumer needs and focus on quality, rather than increasing quantity,” one wholesaler said.
Others see the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games next summer as an opportunity to showcase Toyosu fish to the world.
“We want to promote Toyosu by combining the forces of all players in the market,” a wholesaler said.
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