Greatest thing since sliced bread? Subscription service sources artisanal bakeries across Japan

A bread subscription service focusing on products made by lesser-known bakeries across the country is drawing the attention of foodies and bread enthusiasts.

Yuabread Inc., based in Kiryu, Gunma Prefecture, has developed a freezing technique to preserve the taste and flavor of freshly baked bread for regular delivery to both corporate and individual clients.

The service is intended to connect bread lovers with small bakeries in the countryside that often face difficulty attracting customers.

The program, which gives workers access to artisanal bread at their offices, has attracted 160 corporate subscribers and over 2,000 individual subscribers so far, the company said. Subscribers receive six to 10 types of frozen bread in a box every month.

The number of bakeries participating in the program stands at 15, stretching across Japan. The featured bakeries rotate monthly, according to Yuabread, which was established in 2017.

Naoya Tsutsumi, a 33-year-old Yuabread official in charge of the subscription program, revealed that bread pouches and the timing for freezing are key to preserving freshness.

“(This frozen bread) is tastier than conventional to-go products because it can retain the moisture and savor of wheat,” he said.

The number of subscribers grew during the state of emergency period declared for the coronavirus pandemic between April and May, but some bakeries are struggling financially from declining sales to hotels and schools, Tsutsumi said.

“We would like to expand the bread subscription service and support small local bakeries so they will not disappear,” he said.

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