Food & Drink

Tills and Thrills— Tokyo


From futuristic cash-register technology to staff trained as vegetable sommeliers to exhibitors promoting their concoctions, Japan’s Supermarket Trade Show had the highest turnout yet and offers new ideas for an increasingly competitive industry.

Food, Industry, Japan, Show, Supermarket, Trade

It’s a weekday afternoon in February and men and women in dark business suits gather near five cash-register stations at one end of a cavernous convention hall in Tokyo. As music blares out, a woman wearing a white trouser-suit and sporting a headset mic steps from behind a curtain, welcomes the audience, and proclaims, “At Teraoka, we are reinventing cash-register technology and leading a checkout revolution.”

Checkout revolution isn’t a phrase that’s likely to get the ordinary shopper’s pulse racing, but it’s a big crowd-pleaser at Japan’s Sup…

Treasure aisles: Highlights of the show

Cash registers
Teraoka and Toshiba’s cash registers are contenders for best in show. Both companies split the machine into two: cashiers scan at one station but shoppers pay at separate self-service machines, so someone fishing around in a purse for exact change won’t hold up the queue. 

Most supermarkets carry a familiar selection of leafy greens and root vegetables. But a group of Japanese growers, called the Society to Protect Traditional Vegetables, specialises in native varietals such as pale-orange Aizu pumpkins from Fukushima.  

“Kodawari” food fair
The tightly packed booths, a jumble of products and endless free samples give this area the air of a chaotic outdoor market. Offerings are unusual – one favourite was a kabosu-flavoured tofu ice cream from Oita. 

Cleantech is the focus of Fuji Electric’s supermarket of the future. Solar panels and wind turbines generate electricity, charging stations refuel electric cars.  

Smart vending machines
JR East Water Business introduced the first of its touch-screen vending machines at train stations in Tokyo last August. Designed in collaboration with Design Studio S, these sense your approach, guess your age and sex, and then recommend drinks. 


0:00:00 0:01:00

Drag me