The official website of Osaka Prefecture University
August 2011 Features “MADE IN OPU”
In April 2011, Subway, the American restaurant franchise, internationally well known for submarine sandwiches, opened on OPU’s Nakamozu Campus with the theme of “campus production for campus consumption.” The sandwiches served on our campus, the Subway Vegetable Lab OPU restaurant, are not exactly the same kind as are served in other Subways in the world: vegetables for the sandwiches are produced, sold and consumed on campus.
In March 2011, the R & D Center for the Plant Factory was completed on the Nakamozu campus, with the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan. It is the largest of all fully artificial light-type plant factories in Japan. Vegetables such as lettuce, herbs and ice plants are grown under fluorescent lights in a controlled manufacturing method. On 15 rows of shelves stacked seven meters high are heads of organic lettuce, which after being harvested by a picking robot are immediately transported to the OPU restaurant.
“A few years ago, we started to focus more on serving ‘healthy,’ ‘safe,’ and ‘tasty’ vegetables,” says Hiroshi Tsuge, Branch Manager of Subway Japan Inc.. “Through collaboration with The Plant Factory and the evolutionary model of produce, sell and consume on campus we are able to realize this”.
One of the popular, OPU limited menu items is the “Ice Plant Veggie” featuring ice plant made in the plant factory. The plant originates in South Africa, and its leaves and stems are covered with vesicles filled with salted water that look like a sprinkle of ice crystals.
“It’s a nice concept that we can consume what we produce on campus. I love the texture and slightly salty taste of ice plant. Vegetables from the plant factory are very fresh, and the sandwich tastes so good,” says a university staff who frequents the OPU Subway restaurant.
OPU and Subway are working on the development of new original menu items using vegetables and herbs made in the plant factory.