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New Cooker Reduces Fat and Salt Content of Food (December 20, 2004)

The Healsio (Jiji)
A revolutionary type of oven that uses steam to bake food has injected new life into the market for cooking appliances, which was generally thought to have passed its peak. The oven has been such a hit that the manufacturer has stepped up production to cope with the unexpectedly high demand. Among the secrets of the product's success are its ability to reduce the fat content of food and the fact that it is considerably kinder to the environment than traditional types of ovens.

Ultra-Hot Steam Cuts Down on Fat
Appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, and ovens are known collectively as white goods, and the manufacturer that has recently taken this sector by storm is Sharp Corp. Sharp launched its new type of oven, known as the Healsio, in September 2004. The Healsio is the first oven in the world to employ a mechanism in which ultra-hot 300-degrees-Celsius steam is blown on to the food to cook it.

Using this cooking method, fat and salt contained within the food is drawn to the outside and drops off. When cooking a steak, for example, the Healsio removes eight times as much fat as cooking in a frying pan does. This has made the Healsio a particular favorite among middle-aged and older consumers, who are keen to avoid food that is high in fat and salt. The oven is also said to help conserve Vitamin C by reducing oxidation. Sharp has marketed the Healsio as a low-calorie cooker for health-conscious consumers.

With a recommended retail price of just under ¥100,000 ($1,000 at 100 yen to the dollar), the Healsio is by no means cheap by household-oven standards. Yet as people become more and more conscious of what is healthy and what is not, demand for the oven has spread from older people to other groups, such as newlyweds and families concerned that their children may be overweight. Sharp originally began producing 10,000 of the new ovens per month but soon revised this figure upwards, increasing capacity on its production line to 20,000.

Commenting on the unexpectedly high demand for the Healsio, a Sharp spokesperson said, "Until now the focus in the white goods sector has been on user-friendliness and functionality. The Healsio has been a big hit because it also incorporates health- and environment-related qualities."

A New White Goods Strategy
Besides this new type of oven, Sharp has developed other groundbreaking products, including a dishwasher that saves water by using salt to help get dishes clean and a waste disposal unit that uses yeast to efficiently break down kitchen refuse. The maturity of the white goods market and downward pressure on prices have made it difficult for manufacturers to achieve high operating profits in this sector, but Sharp is determined to overturn this accepted wisdom. The firm also has high hopes for devices that produce minus ions and can be fitted to household appliances.

Sharp's new dishwasher has been described as an essential item for the twenty-first-century kitchen, but Toto Ltd.'s Wash-up Eco series is also attracting attention. The key to the success of the Wash-up Eco products has been their ability to remove even grime that would usually have to be scrubbed by hand, a feat achieved by employing specially developed shower-head technology. The products are testament to Toto's commitment to the ideal of reducing the workload shouldered by homemakers.

These developments are spurring other electronic makers into action in the quest for new products that are good for the health, kind to the environment, and easy to use, setting the scene for a new battle for supremacy in the white-goods market.

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Related Web Sites
Sharp Corp.
Toto Ltd.

Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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