Blog: Dean BestJapan's food industry sees signs of progress

Dean Best | 7 April 2011

Like the rest of Japan, the country's food sector has been battling the aftermath of last month's earthquake and tsunami.

The fear of nuclear contamination in the affected area has hit consumer confidence and led to concern in Japan's key export markets.

However, as Gavin Blair reports from Tokyo below, there are some signs of progress.

The Japanese food industry is making progress in recovering from the fourth-largest earthquake ever recorded and the ensuing tsunami measured as reaching heights of 38 metres. 

"The situation is changing day by day, but food processing plants are almost back to full operation and major transportation networks are already mostly normalised, although there are still problems along the coastal areas," said Taneo Moriyama, managing director of food and retail market intelligence specialist Insight Inc.

The Aeon supermarket in northern Honshu’s Ishinomaki City has already reopened, in one of the worst hit areas, though there are still some reported shortages of stock.

Also, Seven & I Holdings has reported that 146 of its 170 stores in the affected Tohoku and northern Kanto regions are now open. Even in Hachinohe City, which suffered severe damage from the tsunami, distribution is operating fairly normally.

"As for the problem of radiation leaks, it's not so serious for the food business; the ministry of agriculture has banned the sale of some vegetables from Fukushima and surrounding areas but these can be replaced from elsewhere,” said Moriyama.

Imports of some frozen foods are already increasing though, with some Chinese firms stepping up shipments to Japan, he said.


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