The Good Side of High Food Prices, if There is One

June 13, 2008 / No Comments

There is at least one group of people who are happy about high food prices, the rice growers in Japan. Bread and pasta prices are soaring, but the price of rice has been falling. As a result, the Japanese, for one, are going back to the staple the country grew up on.

rice terraces asuka japan The Good Side of High Food Prices, if There is One

Japan’s farm ministry say per-capita rice consumption is up 0.6-percent from last year. What, did they go house to house to see who’s eating more? In response, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is launching a ¥200 million ($2 mil) ad campaign to urge Japanese to eat more rice.

It reminds me of a problem we have here in America. Everybody eats too much, so ad campaigns urge them to, ‘supersize it’?

In 1965, Japan had a 73-percent food self-sufficiency which dropped to 39-percent last year, in large part because Japanese were eating more wheat-based products and imports from countries like China. Poisoned dumplings from China and rising prices of bread and pasta have caused the Japanese to eat and make more at home.

Flavoring for rice (furikake and ochazuke) sales are up 30-percent as have sales of ingredients that are mixed with cooked rice. Sales of ingredients for home-cooked meals are also up.

Japan’s government has always wondered what to do with the oversupply of rice produced by its farmers. Instead of giving it away or selling it cheaply to other countries, the bureauwigs just hoped that their own would eat more. Well, they got that wish!

Meanwhile, far too much of the rest of the world is going hungry.

Image courtesy of fumiya