Exports of Fukushima farm produce strengthen 12 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake

FUKUSHIMA, March 11 — Exports of agricultural items grown and processed in Fukushima Prefecture have been showing brisk growth, as the prefecture recovers from the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident.

Shipments of alcohol products, mainly Japanese sake, are rising and Fukushima-grown peaches occupy the top share among Japanese peaches sold in Southeast Asian markets.

Fukushima also signed a deal with a supermarket in the United States for large-scale shipments of rice.

With the trend of the weak yen and more countries and regions relaxing import restrictions on food products from Fukushima imposed after the nuclear disaster, the exports are expected to have grown at a higher pace in fiscal 2022 ending in March compared with the previous fiscal year when the value of overseas shipments posted a record high.

Exports of Fukushima-made agricultural products and processed items have been increasing every year, posting a year-on-year rise of 52 percent in fiscal 2021 to total 1.375 billion yen, topping the 1-billion-yen mark for the first time, according to the Fukushima Prefectural Government.

They were boosted by alcoholic drinks such as sake whose overseas shipments grew 77 percent from the previous year in fiscal 2021 to amount to 773 million yen.

Fukushima-made sake is attracting growing attention overseas, with buyers from five U.S. companies visiting Japan in February to hold business meetings with sake breweries in the prefecture.

“Probably they are giving high marks to (Fukushima’s) achievement of winning the highest number of gold prizes in the country in a nationwide contest for new sake brews,” said a prefectural government official.

Exports of farm produce are expanding as well.

Exports of peaches harvested in 2022 and shipped mainly by local agricultural cooperatives JA Fukushima Mirai and JA Zen-Noh Fukushima totaled 42 tons, nearly double the amount for peaches harvested in 2021.

The prefectural government said the share of Fukushima-grown peaches tops 50 percent among Japanese peaches sold in Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia.

A local farm coop JA Fukushima Sakura resumed exports of pears to Vietnam, shipping roughly 7 tons.

Fukushima also exports Anpo-gaki semi-dried persimmons to such countries as Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

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