Panasonic to end rice cooker production in Japan

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Panasonic Corp.’s headquarters in Osaka Prefecture

Panasonic Corp., which has produced electric rice cookers for more than 60 years, will end domestic production of the traditional appliance by June and transfer its domestic production base to China.

The company seeks to improve production efficiency by promoting overseas production as the Asian market for rice cookers is expected to grow unlike the sluggish market in Japan.

Panasonic plans to move the current domestic manufacturing base at the plant in Kato, Hyogo Prefecture, to Hangzhou, China, to form a dual base along with Chennai, India. The Kato plant will be used as a facility for environmental business, such as the production of recycled resin.

Panasonic began producing electric rice cookers in 1956, and in 1988 it launched the world’s first rice cooker with an induction heating system, which has now become mainstream for many manufacturers. The company occupies the third or fourth place of the electric rice cooker market in Japan, but the domestic market will inevitably stop growing due to the declining number of households caused by the falling birthrate.

Meanwhile, as for the expansion of the rice cooker market overseas, Global Information Inc. forecasts that the world’s market for electric rice cookers will grow at an annual average of 6.3% through 2027. Asia will particularly be in the lead of this growth, where those with middle class incomes are increasing and a growing number of consumers are demanding high-quality Japanese products, according to the market research company.

Panasonic Group is accelerating efforts to strengthen its supply chain and streamline its production in order to improve productivity. In 2021, the company ended domestic production of televisions and closed its Okayama plant that produced cameras for broadcasting stations.