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Intermediate wholesalers at Tokyo’s Toyosu food market are focusing more on direct online sales to consumers at a time when seafood demand has plunged due to restaurant closures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Online sales are gradually becoming more popular as high-end fish is often offered at huge discounts.

Otatsu Shoten, one of the wholesalers, started online sales in mid-April. It offers various types of specialty fish, including natural bluefin tuna and sekiaji, a horse mackerel brand from the prefecture of Oita, at prices usually reserved for restaurants.

“Our sales fell by some 70 to 80 percent in April” due chiefly to restaurant closures, Ryotaro Kono, Otatsu Shoten’s president, said in explaining the reason for pushing online sales. Such sales have so far totaled nearly ¥1.5 million, according to Kono.

Yamawa Inc., another wholesaler, is selling domestic bluefin tuna in large blocks weighing over 700 grams for ¥2,000 apiece instead of the smaller blocks usually intended for consumers.

The company also released a video that shows ways to process and cook the large tuna blocks. “We want consumers to enjoy various tastes of tuna,” Yamawa President Kazuyoshi Watanabe said.

Yamawa also offers packages of sushi toppings and fresh fish.

“Some of our products are sold at prices that are nearly half that offered by retailers,” Watanabe said. It plans to launch a dedicated website soon.

A different intermediate wholesaler is selling fish in a drive-through style as well as online to attract new customers.

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