If Target's NYC pilot program goes well, their sushi offerings will get a major upgrade at stores across the country.
Target just launched a pilot program in New York City, selling sustainable sushi from a very high-quality source.
The company behind the new Target sushi (and what you'll find at Whole Foods, too) is Hana Group, which has been distributing Japanese food to supermarkets internationally for twenty years. Based in France, Hana Group also sells to one of that country’s largest retailers, Monoprix, and to Sainsbury’s, the largest retail grocery store in the U.K., in addition to myriad other stores, all via its portfolio of 12 brands.
One of these brands is Genji, which first partnered with Whole Foods Market in 1997. Headquartered in Philadelphia, the company trains hundreds of sushi chefs who work inside markets around the country. The fish used to make the rolls for New York area stores is prepared in a facility in Long Island City before it’s shipped lightening fast to each Genji outpost.
In this same facility, using the same fish, Target’s Mai Sushi is also made.
Mai Sushi is another Hana Group brand. During the pilot program, you can find the sushi at three New York City Target stores: Brooklyn Fulton Street, Tribeca, and Herald Square. Since Target doesn’t have an in-store counter like the ones at Whole Foods Markets, the sushi is rolled a few miles away and delivered daily to the stores, where it can be found pre-packaged in the refrigerated section.
"We use no red-rated fish at all,” Bill Rosenzweig, Marketing and Creative Director for Genji and Mai, tells Food & Wine. “Instead, we source products like hand-line caught yellowfin tuna and responsibly raised Atlantic salmon, and we don't serve eel because it's not sustainable."
At Target, you can find a menu of both raw and cooked sushi, as well as vegetarian options. There’s a tuna avocado roll, a spicy shrimp tempura roll, and a vegetable dragon roll, each for $8.49, among about two dozen other options that vary in price but top out at $13.49 for a 6 piece nigiri.
If the pilot program goes well, expect to see Mai Sushi in more Target stores. If you’ve ever stood in the checkout line at the megastore, surveying your shopping cart filled with a spiralizer, self tanner, and a 12-pack of paper towels, and wondering what on earth can’t you buy here—the answer was fresh sushi. And now, at least in New York City, it’s nothing.