[COVID-19] Japan’s rice export to Greater China grows as more young people turn home chefs

TOKYO, Jan. 10 – The export of Japanese rice to Greater China (China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong) is surging. The demand for Japanese rice in those markets is growing as more people started to dine at high restaurants and cook more at home, while work-from-home policies are prevailing to stop the spread of the Covid-19. Also, there is a stronger demand from young people there who started to enjoy cooking at home.

According to a person involved in the agricultural wholesale market in Beijing, Japanese rice is one of the favorite ingredients among local young home cooks. The number of young people who enjoy cooking at home is increasing due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Many of them today are buying premium ingredients on-line to cook something special at home, and one of such popular ingredients is Japanese rice, he said.

According to the trade statistics released by the Ministry of Finance, the rice export to Greater China from January to November 2020 rose 78% year-on-year to 7,523 tons, surpassing the record high of 2019. The export to Hongkong increased by 87% to 4,620 tons and accounted for 60% of all export to Greater China. The exports to Taiwan and China also increased by 72% and 59%.

“Restaurant chains are purchasing more Japanese rice,” said a major Japanese rice importer. While the number of occasions to eat out decreases due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many restaurants also started to offer premium dishes to attract more customers. A major Taiwanese food company, the Kanpai Group, now serves only Japanese rice at its chain restaurants.

Also, the demand for Japanese rice from families is hot. A major local supermarkets Sogo held a Japanese rice fair for ten days from November 20th last year. Though the number of fair visitors was small due to the Covid-19, the company sold 10 tons, including those for on-line customers. In calculation, it sold twenty 5-kg bags of Japanese rice a day.

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