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Ishigaki Island’s Frozen Fruits [KOPPARI]
post : 2020.12.05 07:00
Originally from Ishigaki Island, Kazunari Une developed an interest in the formation of agriculture as the sixth industry and went on to study at Tokyo University of Agriculture. After graduating, he traveled to America to learn about livestock ranching and after completing his program, returned to Ishigaki Island in 2019. He took over his grandfather’s land at the foot of Omoto-dake hills and now runs his own ranch.
*Sixth industry: Farmers and fishermen from the first industry, which are agriculture and fisheries, process their own goods in what is known as the second industry. In the third industry, these products are shipped and sold. When business develops in such multiple ways, it is known as the sixth industrialization.
Upon reading a newspaper article in April of this year that described how due to the impact of COVID-19, various produce harvested on Ishigaki Island couldn’t be shipped out as usual, Une-san set out to launch KOPPARI, a frozen foods business. With the support of food coordinators and those close to him, he began his new business of frozen produce using a unique freezing method.
The word “koppari” is a local Ishigaki term that means “to harden or solidify”.
Une-san interpreted that as “to freeze” and “frozen dessert” and decided to name his new business KOPPARI.
“At that time, the transaction rates for calves were dropping and I was trying to get by through adjusting the timing of shipments, but when it comes to pineapples and mangoes, they have to be shipped out during their season. I knew I had to do something and so I went in for a consultation with a company called Day Break. The people at Day Break work to decrease food waste and food loss through ‘specialized freezing technology’ that I learned about as an intern in university.”
“As an intern, I had come to Ishigaki Island with the CEO of Day Break and accompanied him on visits to various farms. Through talks with farmers at that time, I was already familiar with various issues that were particular to remote islands, and through that experience, I was able to introduce and bring a freezing machine to Ishigaki Island. With their special freezing technology, we can keep the freshness of the fruits and preserve them as though they were just picked.” (Une-san)
Frozen Dragon Fruit and Shikwasa (Photo Courtesy of Une-san)
KOPPARI procures produce from local farmers, and they’re cut, frozen and vacuum packed. Later, they are packaged separately according to merchandise and prices.
“Everything was new to me, and every day was challenging, but by making time to meet with the producers and discussing everything resulted in having this place established and we’ve managed to form routes to sell our merchandise. We still have a long way to go and we’re still young and small, but by fortifying the infrastructure of food distribution, the producers can rest assured and concentrate on their work in a positive environment,” shares Une-san with a big smile.
Farmers Boxing Their Produce (Photo Courtesy of Une-san)
Pineapples (Photo Courtesy of Une-san)
Mangoes (Photo Courtesy of Une-san)
Now at KOPPARI, they have local Ishigaki residents and customers from as far as Hokkaido ordering their products. The secret to their popularity is that the fruits are easy to enjoy, cut into bite-sized pieces, and people say they have no guilty conscience even if they eat a little too much because they’re healthy fruits.
Even the local Oji and Oba (grandpas and grandmas) love them, and KOPPARI now has a wide and diverse following.
KOPPARI Merchandise [NAMIKO Special] (Photo Courtesy of Une-san)
With generous portions of five various products, this smoothie pack is highly acclaimed by food coordinators!
You can enjoy a tropical smoothie with delicious produce that are all grown on Ishigaki Island. This pack was made with careful consideration to taste, and there are no additives, colorings, nor chemical preservatives.
Contents: Pineapples, mangoes, fruit papayas, passionfruit, sugarcane
KOPPARI Merchandise [D Set] (Photo Courtesy of Une-san)
“D Set (6 Varieties of Tropical Smoothies)”
Six varieties of tropical smoothies made only with fruits harvested on Ishigaki Island!
Enjoy delicious smoothies with plenty of fruits, with mangoes and pineapples as the main produce and with guava, passionfruit, Shikwasa citrus, sugarcane, and others.
*Note: Types of produce may vary according to season.
Weight: 125g/pack, six various packages
(Photo above shows a box with eight packages, but the D Set comes with six packages.)
Future goals for KOPPARI includes establishing a retailing system at their current shop where they’re able to communicate directly with customers, so perhaps starting with a takeout order system.
Then, they want to create a place where the farmers can directly sell their produce. They want to create a system where if the produce brought in by the farmers don’t sell out, then KOPPARI would buy the remaining goods so that they can eliminate food loss.
“Because I’m also a producer, I have strong feelings about wanting to directly offer customers what I make. I want to create a place, a community, where my customers can directly cheer us on in our challenges.” (Une-san)
For a brighter and flourishing future of Ishigaki Island, here’s one young challenger from KOPPARI who’s heating up the island with his frozen goods!
How about enjoying some wonderful frozen fruits and supporting his endeavors?
Address: 377-1 Hirae, Ishigaki City, Okinawa 907-0003
To Order Merchandise: https://koppari.net/
*Prices in the article are current as of November 2020.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Akiko Mizuno