Is there life without “onigiri”?


You might ask what is so special about a rice ball called “onigiri” (おにぎり) in Japanese. Of course they are very delicious to eat, but just imagine that according to JMR (Japan Consumer Marketing Research Institute) per day more than 10 million onigiris are sold resulting in a yearly sales turnover of 400 billion Japanese yen. Most “onigiri” are made by wrapping dried seaweed around a triangular-shaped portion of rice, normally with a pickled plum, piece of grilled fish, or other filling inside. For sure “onigiri” are simple food, tasty and perfect for on the go. There is evidence that even soldiers during the Heian period (794-1192) used to carry them. “Onigiri” are a big business and a part of Japanese lifestyle.
For sure I cannot talk about “onigiri” without mentioning Seven Eleven Corp, the largest convenience store chain in Japan. Seven Eleven Corp had their first store (konbini, コンビに) opening in Tokyo in May 1974. Just imagine a point of sales, which has 48% of their customers live within 500 meters from the stores, and 63% within 1,000 meters. Seven Eleven Corp has their own method of setting up new stores called the “Dominant Opening.” They concentrate their stores in specific areas to create critical mass in those areas. The main purpose of this Dominant Opening strategy is to maximize efficiency of distribution and minimize competition. The distance and time their trucks need for delivery can be minimized by concentrating on multiple stores in a limited geographic area. Just imagine: To supply their 10,000 stores around the nation, Seven Eleven Corp “onigiri” factories produce this Japanese food 24 hours a day. Strategically a one rice ball factory is so situated that it can supply 50 stores and has 3 deliveries a day to guarantee freshness.
So next time when you eat your “onigiri” or go to a convenient store, remember the highly tuned set up behind it. “Bon appetite!”

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

2 thoughts on “Is there life without “onigiri”?

  1. Great post! Onigiri is a VERY serious subject for me. One day I asked my h to pick up onigiri at 7-11 (they have the absolute best rice!). If that wasn’t possible, I said he could get it anywhere OTHER than our local supermarket.

    He misunderstood my request and thought I asked him to get the onigiri from anywhere EXCEPT 7-11, and ended up getting it from the supermarket. I didn’t pay any attention to the wrapper, but I knew the difference the moment I bit into the rice. It totally ruined my day. 😦

    • Dear Dosankodebbie,

      thank you so much for taking time to let us know your experience with “onigiri”. I had to do the comparison testing myself and I have to agree with you: “Seven Eleven onigiri” are the best!

      All the best,

      Sibylle Ito

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