AI Tuna now available at supermarkets: will this change the hit-and-miss nature of tuna?

ISSUED : 2021.12.7

The tuna we buy at the supermarket looks the same, but the taste varies from day to day.
This experience led to the development of TUNA SCOPE. We wanted to ensure that people could be confident of buying delicious tuna at their local supermarkets.

In 2021—two years after we began developing an AI to achieve our above goal—we launched AI Tuna at Yamazawa and Shufu-no-mise, the major supermarket chains in the Tohoku region. Our AI had mastered the skills of Japanese artisans, and made it possible for supermarkets to offer tuna of the same quality as those that had undergone examination by a human expert. Here, we reveal the feedback of customers who bought and tasted this AI Tuna, and report on their expectations for the future.

Prompted by the state of supermarket tuna: bringing the skill of tuna examination to store shelves

At Toyosu and other leading foodstuff markets in Japan, the quality of tuna is meticulously assessed by master artisans. More than 10 years of training are required to acquire these examination skills, and the tuna hand-picked by these artisans is sold only to the highest-class sushi restaurants and traditional Japanese establishments. They are not to be found in normal supermarkets.

Tuna is often eaten on celebratory occasions, so diners naturally expect it to be delicious. However, the tuna we typically eat in our homes can be hit-and-miss—not as tasty as it looks, for example, or lacking depth of flavor. But imagine if the examination skills of master artisans could be applied to the raw tuna that lines supermarket shelves—then there would be a steady supply of delicious tuna for everyone! Our development of TUNA SCOPE was motivated by such a desire.

Tuna examined by AI: how consumers reacted

In October 2021, we commenced test sales of AI Tuna—labeled with “AI-Certified Taste” stickers—at Yamazawa supermarket. A video about our project played in the sales area and large numbers of curious customers stopped to take a look. We spoke to consumers about their impressions of the products they tasted and their thoughts on TUNA SCOPE's project initiatives.

“It was tastier and had a richer flavor than the tuna I usually eat.”

“The endorsement by cutting-edge technology like AI allows me to buy products with confidence.”
“I was surprised that buying good tuna at the supermarket can even lead to solving the distant resource problem.”

In addition to positive feedback on the taste, people were surprised to learn that TUNA SCOPE is even connected to the possibility of solving various social issues.

But there was more:
“I was surprised at the connection between a cutting-edge technology like AI and our everyday food. If AI-based examinations were used in more stores, and for other products we buy, such as other types of fish and perishable products—then perhaps the world would be a better place.”

The above consumer evidently hopes that AI examinations of food will become increasingly widespread. Using technology to accurately measure the quality of products in various places around the world could well make for richer everyday experiences of food. One of our goals for TUNA SCOPE is to have people everywhere be confident that they are buying delicious tuna. Going forward, we will continue to work together with different companies and stores to expand the use of this technology both in Japan and overseas. It may not be long before AI Tuna is available to consumers the world over.