Japanese tofu prices are going up 20% because of Abenomics

Japanese tofu prices are going up 20% because of Abenomics

By Adam Pasick @adampasick 4 hours ago

Japan’s tofu manufacturers are planning to jack up prices by 20% this autumn—the first markup in 15 years—as a response to the rising price of American soybean imports, caused in part by a stronger Japanese yen. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pushed a series of reforms designed to rid the economy of deflation, but the policies have had harsh consequences for industries that must import dollar-denominated commodities like oil, natural gas, and soybeans. Japan is the biggest per capita consumer of soy foods—not just in tofu but in soy sauce, miso, edamame, and the smelly fermented delicacy known as natto—with the average adult consuming 24.3 kilograms per year. The country is reliant on imports for about three-quarters of its supply, according to the US Department of Agriculture; that percentage rose even higher after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which rendered 22% of domestic supply unusable (pdf, pg 2) because of radiation fears. Yasuo Hachijin, head of an industry group in the Kinki region and president of Kyoto-based Global Protein Foods Inc., said the price of raw materials has climbed 20% over the last five years. He told the English-language Japan Times, that “the hike will not be enough to fill the gap and that the industry will have consider another one.” The Japanese tofu industry’s woes have been exacerbated by drought conditions in the American Midwest, which resulted in six weeks of rising soy prices through Sept. 16—the longest run of rising prices since 2009. Prices eased slightly this week due to reports of much-needed rain—a relief to US farmers, if not necessarily to their clients in Japan’s tofu factories.Tofu makers set to increase prices


SEP 15, 2013

Tofu makers plan to raise wholesale prices by around 20 percent this autumn, their first full-fledged markup in about 15 years, informed sources said. The move is being made because profit margins have been shrinking in line with the rising cost of raw materials prompted by higher prices for imported soybeans and the government’s recent weakening of the yen, the sources said Saturday. Companies including 18 manufacturers belonging to an industry group in the Kinki region are expected to hike prices in October. They are likely to be followed by other manufacturers nationwide. Tofu makers, who have been struggling with low prices for their products amid persistent deflation, held demonstrations in Tokyo in May to call public attention to their plight. Yasuo Hachijin, head of the Kinki industry group and president of Kyoto-based Global Protein Foods Inc., said prices of raw materials have climbed 20 percent over the past five years while distribution costs have fallen 20 percent. He said the hike will not be enough to fill the gap and that the industry will have consider another one, depending on the situation.

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