Exports of Japanese foods have plummeted in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated north eastern Japan earlier this month, a UK based trade representative for the country has told just-food.

Food exports have fallen as meeting domestic demand for food products – particularly convenience foods – is being given top priority by manufacturers, Masashi Takizawa, agriculture and food division director of the Japanese External Trade Organisation, indicated today (29 March).

“Moreover, the nuclear accident severely restricted [export],” Masashi added.

Japanese authorities have been battling for over two weeks to bring a nuclear crisis under control and avert a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled when the tsunami struck.

However, radiation that has leaked from the plant’s three damaged reactors has raised concerns over the safety of Japanese food and prompted a number of countries – including the US, China, Singapore, the EU, Australia and Russia – to restrict imports of foodstuffs.

Nevertheless, Masashi downplayed such concerns and said that the Japanese government has taken the steps necessary to ensure the safety of Japanese foods and prevent radioactive ingredients entering the food chain, including quarantining agricultural goods from the area.

“The Japanese Government is executing shipment limitation of the agriculture and livestock products in a part of the region. Therefore, the food that the consumer eats is safe,” he insisted.

Elsewhere in the country, Masashi said that food makers have resumed production, which was temporarily been interrupted by logistical issues and the disruption of the country’s infrastructure.

However, he added: “manufactures making Sake, Soy source and so on in the Tohoku area can’t recover yet, because the gas is not [being] supplied now.”