• Thursday, September 20, 2018
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Vegetable prices soar amid Japan heat wave

  • COURTESY JAPAN NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANIZATION

    Vegetables growing in Nagano.

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The record-breaking heat wave in Japan is bumping up vegetable prices. And the rain in some areas did, too.

Continuous high temperatures and a lack of rainfall in the Kanto and Koshin regions have had a harmful effect on crops, causing a drop in the volume being shipped from production areas.

The high prices are expected to continue for the time being, and there is concern the hikes will impact household budgets.

In a supermarket in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, the prices of daikon radish, carrot, cabbage, spinach and other vegetables have increased since mid-July by about 50 percent.

A shopper in the store said, “I’m thinking of cutting down on how often I serve salad, as every vegetable price is rising.”

According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, major vegetable production areas in the Kanto region as well as other areas have been hit by an extreme heat that has burned crops’ leaves and caused some vegetables to rot, resulting in a decline in the volume of vegetables grown outdoors.

Rain adds to price spike

In addition to the scorching heat, continuous rain in the Hokkaido and Tohoku regions in mid-June is also believed to have spurred the price hikes.

As a result, 10 out of the 14 major vegetables offered at the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market on July 23 fetched higher trade prices than in an average year.

The price of cabbage rose by 65 percent, cucumbers 40 percent and spinach 26 percent. Even the price of lettuce, which had been low due to a good harvest, rose 16 percent.

In western Japan, the aftermath of heavy rains caused price increases at an Osaka market for such vegetables as naganegi long onion, cucumber and okra.

Wholesale price hikes are not necessarily reflected in the prices in shops.

However, the operator of a fruit and vegetable shop called Shinjuku Yaoya in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, is concerned that the trend may be prolonged, saying: “All kinds of vegetables have gotten scarce, and their prices have begun to rise. We can’t predict what will happen now or in the future.”

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, average temperatures in mid-July in the Kanto, Koshin and other regions hit their highest levels since data began being collected in 1961. Since mid-May, the amount of precipitation in many areas of those regions have been 30 percent lower than an average year.

Financial planner Fujiko Azuma suggested, “One of the options is not to stick to leaf vegetables but to also use mushrooms, onions and frozen vegetables, the prices of which are relatively stable.”

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