Tour applications flood in as ‘Otate’ Otaru scallop brand marketing project continues

Participants on the monitor tour enjoy dishes made with scallops produced in Otaru, inside a kamakura. January 22, Otaru
Salad, hotpot and other scallop dishes served on the monitor tour. January 22. Otaru

This fiscal year’s project to promote scallops cultivated off the coast of Shukutsu in the city of Otaru, under the ‘Otate’ brand name, is progressing steadily. The project is being implemented by an executive committee comprising 17 industry, academia and government organizations in the city, including the City of Otaru, fishery organizations, and Otaru University of Commerce. In January, the committee organized a tour for participants to sample scallop dishes inside a kamakura (Japanese-style igloo). The committee is also working on a PR strategy for the new fiscal year, and efforts to raise awareness of hidden gems are gaining momentum in a bid to revitalize the local economy, which has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The free monitor tour offered scallop dishes such as sashimi, sushi and seafood hotpots inside a kamakura, and an overnight stay at a hotel in the city. The number of participants was limited to 10 pairs but applications were received from 145 pairs. A female office worker (26) from Saitama prefecture, who is originally from Otaru, smiled as she said, “I didn’t know about scallops in Otaru, but this is a unique program. I’d like to spread the word via Instagram.”
Otaru has always been known as a scallop fry producing area among those in the know. The 2020 catch of young scallops was 2,856 tons, the largest ever, with a total value of 770 million yen. On the other hand, the catch of adult scallops was only 38 tons, with a value of 10 million yen. Such scallops are seldom available in Otaru. In order to contribute to the recovery of the post-COVID local economy, the ‘Otate’ branding project was initiated in a bid to raise awareness of the adult scallops.
 In order to differentiate Otaru from other areas that are famous for giant scallops and baby scallops, the executive committee has been selling medium-sized, 2-year-old scallops of about 100 grams, as adult scallops. The scallops were sampled by a major supermarket’s fisheries buyer, who endorsed the product, saying, “The flesh is really firm, with a close-grain texture and delicious umami (savory) flavor.”

In October last year, a month-long fair was held in which 100 restaurants in the city were invited to offer their own original scallop dishes. Around the time of the fair, freshly caught scallops were sold in supermarkets in the city, PR posters were distributed, and promotional videos were made to publicize the event. From February 11 to 13, the tour included a rickshaw ride followed by a dish of seafood soup with scallops at a restaurant in the city. Eager to expand the production of adult scallops, a scallop fisherman in the city said, “It has been effective in raising awareness. We will continue to supply scallops if there is demand.”


Coast of Shukutsu