Instead of energy bars or sports drinks, Kagome Co. is pitching fresh tomatoes to joggers, installing a vending machine offering the vegetable at a support facility for runners in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.
The Nagoya-based company, a major beverage and tomato product manufacturer, hopes to call attention to the tomato's high nutritional value, which they believe will reduce fatigue in runners zipping around the Imperial Palace.
"I recommend runners have one after jogging to supply nutrition,” a Kagome official said.
The vending machine will remain on site until Feb. 23, when the Tokyo Marathon 2014 will be held.
The bright red machine, placed at Hanzomon Runners' Satellite JOGLIS, is designed with the vegetable in mind with a logo saying “Tomato loading.”
On sale are 280-gram and 180-gram tomatoes, priced, respectively, at 400 yen ($3.80) and 300 yen each.
To keep them fresh, the tomatoes are replaced every other day.
According to the Japan Automatic Merchandising Association, while there are vending machines offering bananas and apples, tomato vending machines are uncommon.
Encouraging tomato consumption through sports is a a business strategy of Kagome.
The company, which has been a sponsor of the Tokyo Marathon since last year, plans to distribute twice as many tomatoes this year, 72,000, to 36,000 runners, as it did last year.
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