6 June 2024

One of the world’s largest exhibitions of technology for the food industry, Fooma Japan 2023, has kicked off in Tokyo. Robots that can pack items on assembly lines are attracting attention as the sector struggles with a shortage of workers.

The fair started on Tuesday with about 960 companies displaying state-of-the-art technology. Tokyo firm RT is showcasing robots that work as a team to put food into containers. Officials say if one robot misses an item, its partner can take over the task.

Yamazen has presented a device that packs lunchboxes without human assistance. It uses image-recognition technology and sensors to select each item for the package.

Robots placing items into lunchboxes. (Photo courtesy of NHK)

One of the organizers is Minami Tsuneyuki, vice chairperson of the board of the Japan Food Machinery Manufacturers’ Association. He says there’s an urgent need to improve food-processing efficiency and that Japan’s food-tech firms can help automate factories and reduce the need for new workers. The fair runs through Friday.