Posts Tagged ‘konbeni’

Natural Lawson takes it to the next level

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Natural Lawson & food kurkuu. A template for a new kind of convenience store?

If you’re looking for farm fresh, healthy produce, the convenience store isn’t exactly the first place you think of visiting, but there has been a shift in konbini (convenience store) culture in recent years that sees some brands offering healthier options. Busy office workers who want to snack on something other than cup noodles or reheated spaghetti bolognaise now have Circle K’s Think Body range of readymade meals, or 7-Eleven’s range of healthy salads available. But the brand which has really been at the forefront of providing healthier options has been Natural Lawson, and a new concept store that opened in the Gaienmae area last month might be a template for other convenience stores in the future.

A tie-up with online store kurkku, Natural Lawson & food kurkku convenience store offers an amped-up version of the Natural Lawson experience. Offering organic, healthy fare, the store stocks kurkku produce that has been sourced from farmers all over Japan. There’s been a trend in supermarkets of late to give customers a better sense of where their food is coming from, by providing information and often pictures of domestic food producers. Tying up with kurkku is a good way for Natural Lawson to copy this sales strategy in the convenience store. Embracing the slow food movement farm fresh vegetables, meat, fish and fruit are sold alongside the usual ready made meals.

The atmosphere is more posh department store than Kwik-E-Mart, and the brand is aiming to attract the demographic of health-concious female shoppers who are care about the provenance of the food they eat. Other features that make it stand out from the cheap ‘n’ cheerful konbini is its instore bakery, which sells fresh-from-the-oven pastries that can be eaten at the cafe-style “eat-in corner” and a coffee machine that actually grinds fresh beans. At the deli, the food is “produced” by celebrity chef Miyuki Igarashi. Downstairs is kurkku cave restaurant, which serves a healthy menu and has an impressive range of 1,000 wines.

The collaboration also marks another milestone for the kurkku empire, which is bankrolled by Mr. Children producer Takeshi Kobayash and continuies to claim plots of land in this neck of Tokyo.  Lawson, Inc., the second largest convenience store chain in Japan, will surely profit from its association with the eco-hip brand.

At the time of writing it’s not known whether more Natural Lawson & food kurkku outlets will be opened. Most likely that be determined by the success of this experiment. At the very least, perhaps this venture will inspire other konbini to up their game.

All the leaves are brown . . . and the chips are purple

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Calbee's Jagabee purple potato snack

Calbee’s Jagabee purple potato snack

As the leaves begin slowly to change color on the trees, so too do the products lining the shelves of our local convenience store. Many products, such as Calbee ç Purple Potato pot of potato chips, can only be bought during a particular season.

These chips are made from an unusual variety of purple potato called Inca Purple grown in Hokkaido that contains a naturally occurring pigment called anthocyanin. While Calbee aren’t promoting this snack as a health food, the pigment is an anti-oxidant and has been found to reduce the occurence of stomach cancer in mice.

When we bit into the chip it did taste rather greasy. However, we liked the rough cut natural look of the product and thought that the salt flavor was the perfect complement to its slightly sweet taste. While this purple snack won’t be inspiring any prose of the same hue, we thoroughly recommend it as a more natural alternative to your workaday processed product.

If you’d like to try a pack, don’t forget that they’ll be off the shelves in three months.

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