Business

Japanese convenience stores focusing on healthy foods

JIJI

Convenience store operators are focusing more on selling healthy bento meals and prepared foods using plenty of vegetables or fewer food additives.

With increases in double-income and elderly households that prefer prepared meals as opposed to home-cooked fare, companies hope to shed the unhealthy image of convenience store bento and encourage families to enjoy such food without worry.

In March, Seven-Eleven Japan Co. started placing stickers on products meeting the firm’s own health standards, one of which includes using at least half the daily recommended amount of vegetables.

Currently, about 10 products don the label, including onigiri rice balls. The Seven & I Holdings Co. unit hopes to add more items, such as noodles and hot pots, to their healthy product lineup.

Lawson Inc. offers bento, noodles and other products with large amounts of vegetables.

The company, which is careful about the source and freshness of its croquette ingredients and deep-fried horse mackerel, also plans to switch to lighter seasonings for the items.

Last month, FamilyMart Co. released sandwiches using bread made from whole-wheat flour, which is rich in fiber and vitamins.

The FamilyMart Uny Holdings Co. subsidiary has also added chicken breast, which is low in fat but high in protein, to its Famichiki fried chicken lineup.

The company aims to double the number of healthy food products it sells by the end of the current fiscal year.

Convenience store operators are ending the use of preservatives and artificial coloring in bento and other products.

Seven-Eleven Japan does not use artificial yeast, which speeds up fermentation, in its bread products. Lawson stopped using it recently.

FamilyMart has stopped using phosphate, a substance for softening ham, in its sandwich products.