Rice Price Jumps at Japan Supermarkets Amid Heat Damage, Tourism Boom


The average price of rice has surged at supermarkets in Japan, data from the private and public sectors showed Wednesday, with pundits attributing it to a tight supply as a result of last summer's high temperatures and high demand from booming inbound tourism.

In Japan, rice prices have surged to 1,978 yen for 5 kilograms due to reduced harvests from record summer heat in 2023, alongside increased demand fueled by booming tourism.

According to True Data In., a data solutions provider in Tokyo, the price of rice per 5 kilograms hit 1,978 yen between June 3 and 9, its highest in the latest two-year period, and up 191 yen from between June 13 and 19 in 2022.

Last year was a harsh one for rice producers due to the record summer heat, with the harvest of rice for staple food consumption decreasing to 6.61 million tons, down 91,000 tons from a year earlier. "The supply-demand balance has tightened from around the end of 2023," a major rice wholesaler official said, noting that there have been cases of supply disruptions.

The trend of rising prices at supermarkets may continue depending on this year's rice yield, the official said. Some restaurants have started taking measures against the rising price of rice.

Yoshinoya Holdings Co, the operator of a major beef bowl chain, switched from domestically produced rice to a blend of Japanese and foreign rice this spring, a public relations official of the company said, touching on the impact of a "surge" in the price of domestic rice.

But a nationwide rice distributors' cooperative emphasized that the current situation is "not an emergency," saying there is still enough supply overall even though shortages are felt at some supermarkets and restaurants.

The harvest of staple food rice to match its demand this year should be around 6.69 million tons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Japan has seen a rise in tourists, gaining a boost from the removal of COVID-19 travel restrictions and a weak yen. According to a 2023 report on foreign visitors to Japan by the Japan Tourism Agency, eating Japanese food was ranked No. 1 in a bucket list for what they wanted to do while in the country.

Source: https://japantoday.com

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