Athletes challenge to solve social problem

A marathon runner Suguru Osako and a former cross country skier Hiroyuki Miyazawa, both are graduated from Waseda University at the same year and competed on the world stage as an athlete, were working on the project which creating processed food made by corn produced in Shinano machi, Nagano, which was scheduled to be discarded.

In the beginning of 2022, Osako visited Miyazawa living in Shinano machi for enjoying vacation. This project was started while they were talking frankly.

“A lot of corn from Shinanomachi are discarded. I heard that from a farmer.” Miyazawa said. Then Osako said that why don’t we try to solve that problem together?

In June 2022, the two of them visited Mr. Kobayashi, a corn farmer, and directly interviewed him about the issues. At that time, the rough concept of processing the corn that was scheduled to be discarded into corn soup and distributing it directly was also decided.

Note that please read below column describe how it begun in detail.

How to create product from nothing

Corn harvest season begins in July. But the timing of when corn can be harvested is irregular, and farmers call Miyazawa the day before the harvest date. After the farmer completed to harvest corn scheduled to be shipped to market, Miyazawa harvested corn which could not be sold in at market.

They needed to be proceed planning product in parallel with the corn harvest. How does it make? How does it taste? Product name, package design, and price. There were a lot of things they need to think. Osako joined the works discuss these topics from US through chat and online meetings.

Through planning product, they faced a lot of tasks which they never experience as an athlete. However, they tried to create product by themselves without any help.

How to create delicious corn soup

Final prototype had been created when Osako came back to Japan after running the New York city marathon. Osako met Miyazawa and they test to tase that soup in one day November in Tokyo.

Package design was finalized and they tasted he corn soup, named Potaco. “It is very delicious” It was Osako’s first comment immediately after tasting. Miyazawa looked like relived because he experienced so many times of try and error for making this. Osako and Miyazawa believed that the corn soup they would make this time would not be a product that people would buy because “it is our product” or “to reduce food loss,” but rather high quality (a delicious product that would satisfy customers).

Miyazawa had made many prototypes and made improvements to the distribution of raw materials and content in the process of making corn soup. Like he had used branded milk and then he found that the taste of that kind of milk stands rather than the corn soup.

The corn distributed by Kobayashi-san is 17 – 18 degree of sugar percentage and is very sweet. The behind of this sweetness is from the combination of selected species, compost made from sawdust used for mushroom cultivation, and atmosphere of Shinano machi. Miyazawa wanted to add that sweet tase into the corn soup.

The tase of this corn soup is so very sweet that it was hard to believe that it was sugar-free. This was the most surprising thing to Osako and the other members who tasted it. We would like you to taste this natural sweetness of the corn grown with love in Shinano machi.

Expand from small action

They reached the point to introduce very first product to the world. Now it was very small action but it was very huge step for them. They made the contact point between athletes and farmers in Shinano-machi. They changed the corn had planned to be discarded to be delicious corn soup. They created a product that could taste the original of the ingredients without using synthetic additives. There could be some athletes who see this project take similar action. If this kind of project become a viable business, they may be able to create a system that can give back financially to the community and athletes.

Potaco launch at 11:00(JST), December 9th Fri.

Potaco will be releasing at 11:00(JST), December 9th Fri. on SKETCH BOOK.

We could not produce a lot of amount this time because of the amount of harvest corn and resource of production. Also it was difficult to forecast how many corn soup can be sold. If we produce this kind of processed food with best-before date too many, we have to discarded that. We are very sorry if someone who would like to buy will not be cable to buy but we would like to avoid to become more severe the food loss problem.

“We would like you to enjoy this corn soup from Shinano-machi. We are very happy to know this kind of problem” Osako and Miyazawa said.

We hope you will try our newborn Potaco made with Shinanomachi corn.