Kura-Sushi is Japan’s largest sushi chain. To procure stock, skilled artisans visited various regions in Japan and abroad to directly evaluate the quality of tuna for purchase, using judgement cultivated through years of experience. However, travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic made it impossible for artisans to evaluate and purchase on-site as they had before. To ensure that it could continue delivering delicious tuna to consumers amid these supply threats, Kura-Sushi adopted a technology that we had developed. We took on the challenge of ‘AI-driven purchasing’, a new initiative that overturned conventions in the fishing industry.
We developed TUNA SCOPE, the world’s first AI capable of discerning tuna quality with the eye of a skilled Japanese artisan. Using the peculiarities of deep learning, the AI was able to establish its own methodology for making judgements that had been considered ‘tacit knowledge’ based on human intuition and experience, becoming the world’s first AI to successfully acquire a professional skill. Working with Kura Sushi, we sent the TUNA SCOPE data to Dalian, China, where in a world-first the AI performed remote purchasing in place of skilled artisans. Top-quality ‘AI tuna’ selected by AI was sold at 461 Kura Sushi restaurants throughout Japan.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, AI tuna became a huge hit, with sales three times higher than usual. This initiative has become a global sensation, covered by over 1,500 media outlets in 57 countries and an innovation that will transform the fisheries industry beyond the current pandemic. TUNA SCOPE has been adopted as a promotion program supported by the government of Japan. With the national government’s support, we are expanding the supply of AI- selected tuna around the world, including in New York and Singapore. Through TUNA SCOPE, we seek to spread Japanese skills globally to create a society where everyone can enjoy delicious tuna in the future.
“Innovating the industry with a new buying style to overcome the COVID-19”Makoto Tanaka, Kura Sushi, Inc.
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