Tomato vending machines at a commercial facility and a train station in this west Japan city have become so popular that people apparently line up for the fresh products refilled three times a week. A bag of tomatoes weighing some 230 grams is priced between 300 yen (about $2.60) and 400 yen (approx. $3.50).
The "Kobe Sweets Tomato" variety is grown at Rokko Farm in the city's Kita Ward. The vending machines are set up at Kobe Electric Railway Co.'s Suzurandai Station in Kita Ward and the BB Plaza shopping mall in the city's Nada Ward. An additional machine will be installed at Tanigami Station in Kita Ward by the end of 2021.
At Rokko Farm, tomatoes are grown in a total of six greenhouses over 2,000 square meters of ground. Some 10,000 saplings were planted in July, and the fruits harvested in October were sold at the farm's directly managed store and the Daimaru Kobe department store, in addition to the vending machines.
Behind these popular tomatoes is Nada Ward-based Shimabun Corp., which recycles iron scrap and processes steel stock. The company entered the tomato cultivation business in 2018. By inviting an agricultural consultant from Shimane Prefecture in western Japan, it has made strong efforts to create tomatoes that have a high sugar content.
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