Are you craving for a Japanese snack that you can eat at any time of the day? Look no further. Miyazaki Prefecture, a beautiful place in Japan located explicitly in southern Kyushu, is known for its “Yakiimo” or grill-baked sweet potatoes.
Yakiimo is a popular snack that locals enjoy during autumn and summer, but it quickly became a national favorite because of Miyazaki’s non-stop production and promotional efforts. Now, many tourists are visiting the Miyazaki to try their most popular local product yet.
The native product is a cut above the rest, and it now comes in different brands and forms. The most popular brand of sweet potato in Miyazaki today is “Nofuku Yakiimo”.
Locals residing in Miyazaki are mostly responsible for Nofuku Yakiimo’s growing popularity. They generated a high demand for the sweet potatoes they produce through 3 surprising aspects: sales in vending machines, meticulous production, and social entrepreneurship.
Aside from the physical stores selling sweet potatoes, Nofuku Yakiimo is also available in vending machines. For the record, Japan actually has the highest ratio of vending machines in the world. The country is currently home to 5.52 million active vending machines. Miyazaki used this trend to expand its sweet potato business further. You see, vending machines in Japan usually carries drinks like soda, milk teas, and iced coffee. But now, they can offer root-crops like sweet potatoes.
The first Nofuku Yakiimo vending was established in front of Wakosangyo office, the local real estate agency that also operates the machines. Due to the surprising boom of the sweet potato business, the agency has installed three more vending machines around Miyazaki. At press time, there are currently 11 machines selling Nofuku Yakiimo in Nobeoka and Hyuga.
Meanwhile, the actual Yakiimo products themselves are being exported to other countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore—thanks to the efforts of Miyazaki Local Products And Trade Promotion Center. According to the organization, they will ensure the smooth production and promotion of the products: “We are seeing the results of over ten years of sweet potato promotion from Miyazaki. We will go beyond the borders of Asia and introduce this exceptionally delicious Miyazaki brand to the world.” If everything goes smoothly, Yakiimo might be exported to the Philippines!
The sweet potatoes are produced as hot and cold, so it’s the perfect and most healthy snack for people of all ages. Sweet potatoes under the brand Nofuku Yakiimo, specifically, are placed in vacuum-pack cans to prolong the quality of the product and extends its expiration date. From days to weeks, Nofuku Yakiimo can withstand the test of time until it reaches your hungry tummy.
The meticulous production and quality of Nofuku Yakiimo are some of the reasons why people love it. After all, they are a suitable snack during autumn and summer, especially to local high school students and tourists.
The production of Nofuku Yakiimo is brought about by social entrepreneurship. All the sweet potatoes sold in Miyazaki’s vending machines are produced, packaged, and manufactured by persons with disability. They receive compensation for every product sold.
The production process is in the form of workshops. From each can of Nofuku Yakiimo, they earn a profit of ¥40. A portion of each profit will then go to the wages of the workshop participants. For that reason, the real estate agency Wakosangyo is hoping to reach its goal of ¥20 million yearly sales to help increase the wages of the workshop participants.