Rice Demand in Japan for ’23 Expected to Fall Again

A frog clings to rice stalks at a paddy field in Minami-Uonuma, north of Tokyo October 18, 2007. 

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japanese demand for rice grown in 2023 for direct human consumption is expected to fall 100,000 tons from a year earlier to 6.81 million tons, down for the 10th consecutive year, according to the agriculture ministry.

The figure is expected to be lowest since the start of comparable data in 1996.

With demand for rice as staple food continuing its downward march, the ministry has been encouraging farmers to switch over to soybeans and wheat, as well as produce rice for animal feed.

The ministry also released a survey on rice acreage in 2023 by prefecture.

As of the end of June, 24 of 47 prefectures had estimated their rice acreage to decrease by over 1% from the previous year, up by seven prefectures from the previous survey conducted as of the end of April.

Only Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures expected their rice acreage to rise, while the remaining 21 prefectures said their acreage will remain mostly unchanged.

In addition to the shrinking population, a drop in the average amount of rice consumption per person has led to a further decline in demand for rice as a staple food in Japan.

On the result of the latest survey, the ministry said that demand-based adjustment of rice production and sales has started to take root.

Meanwhile, rice inventories in the private sector as of the end of June decreased by 210,000 tons from a year earlier to 1.97 million tons, reflecting a recovery in rice demand in the restaurant industry following the removal of COVID-19-related restrictions.

It was the first time in four years for the inventories to fall to the range of 1.8 million to 2 million tons, levels where rice prices stabilize.