nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

As fears linger, Fukushima rice rebounds under anonymity

hjkllmm.jpg
A Fukushima prefectural government worker advertises rice from his prefecture at a Tokyo commercial facility in November 2018
March 20, 2019
FUKUSHIMA–Shipments of Fukushima rice have rebounded since the 2011 nuclear disaster, but Masao Matsukawa, a rice farmer in the prefecture, is not happy about the situation.
Before the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, most of the rice grown at Matsukawa’s farm in Sukagawa was sold for household use.
Now, the bulk of his annual harvest of 15 tons is designated for “industrial use,” mainly by convenience store and restaurant chains, and simply labeled “domestic product.”
“I am so sad about it all,” Matsukawa, 74, said. “I am so confident in the rice I grow, so I wish to sell it openly under the ‘Fukushima’ label.”
But rice from the northeastern prefecture is still struggling to reach pre-disaster levels for household use because of lingering consumer concerns about radiation.
The nuclear disaster took a heavy toll on the prices of Fukushima rice.
The “arm’s length price” of the rice, for direct transactions between marketing groups and wholesalers, was 10.4 percent below the national average for the 2014 harvest.
However, the price was only 3.0 percent below the national average for the 2018 harvest, according to preliminary figures.
The comeback has been driven by solid demand for industrial use rice for products sold at convenience stores and dishes served at restaurants.
According to a farm ministry survey, industrial use accounted for 65 percent of shipments of rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture in the year through June 2017, one of the highest ratios in Japan.
No comparable figures are available, though, for the pre-disaster period.
When the scope is limited to rice handled by the Fukushima Prefecture branch of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, industrial use accounts for more than 80 percent of the shipments, up about 15 percentage points from pre-disaster levels, officials said.
“There is high demand for industrial use rice from Fukushima Prefecture, which is cheap for its taste,” one distributor said.
Industrial use rice often only carries a “domestic” label with no mention of the production area.
But labels on rice for hpusehold use usually show the production area. And consumers are still pulling back from Fukushima labels.
Rice of the Tennotsubu strain, a brand from Fukushima Prefecture that debuted in autumn 2011, was put on the shelves at a rice store in Tokyo last year, only to be withdrawn because of next-to-nothing sales.
“Products of Fukushima Prefecture, where the nuclear disaster has had lingering consequences, are not the first to be chosen,” the shopkeeper said.
Since 2012, all bags of rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture have been subject to the prefectural government’s blanket testing. The screening has cost about 6 billion yen ($54 million) annually.
Since August 2015, no rice has been found with radioactive substances exceeding the central government’s safety standards.
The prefectural government plans to switch to a sample testing, possibly with the 2020 harvest.
According to a Consumer Affairs Agency survey conducted in February, 12.5 percent of consumers are hesitant to buy products from Fukushima Prefecture because of possible radioactive content.
Although that percentage is the lowest since the survey started in 2013, it shows that aversion to Fukushima products remains.
In hopes of further reducing the ratio, the prefectural government in October began sending its workers to rice shops across Japan to advertise the taste and safety of Fukushima rice.
Advertisements

March 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | | Leave a comment

Chinese residents concerned over imports of rice produced near Fukushima disaster area

32898422-1016-4551-8215-fd52901332b9.jpeg
Consumers buy rice at a supermarket in Taiyuan, North China’s Shanxi Province in March, 2018
January 10, 2019
Chinese residents expressed concerns over the safety of Japanese rice produced nearby the Fukushima disaster area, after the Chinese government lifted an eight-year ban on the import of the rice. 
 
Japan’s National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JA) on Tuesday held a ceremony at Yokohama, Japan for exporting the Niigata rice into China for the first time after the Chinese government lifted the ban on imports of rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, the Japan News reported on Wednesday.
 
China’s General Administration of Customs announced in November that it had lifted a ban on rice imports from Niigata, one of a number of prefectures neighboring Fukushima, home to the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which went into meltdown and released radioactive material in the aftermath of a tsunami in March 2011.
 
The rice will be sold before the Spring Festival, which falls on February 5, a season which will see booming demand for rice in China.
 
An official of JA said he had confidence that the rice is of high quality and safe, and could satisfy Chinese consumers. Niigata rice will have a trial sale of 500 bags totaling two tons to Shanghai, the Niigata Daily reported on Wednesday.
 
However, Chinese residents don’t seem to have much desire to buy the rice.
 
“I actually don’t care much about the production place when I buy rice, but I still won’t buy the Niigata rice out of food safety concern, and I’m more confident about the quality of the rice produced in the Northeast China,” Chinese student Lei Yue majoring in Japanese told Global Times on Thursday.
 
Varieties of Japanese rice can be seen now being sold on Taobao,  many of which are priced higher than those produced in China. 
 
A Taobao shop is selling Japanese rice for 145 yuan ($21.4) per two kilograms, almost twice the price of domestic rice. 
 
The rice is produced in Yishigawa, Japan, 400 kilometers away from Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, implying that the rice is safe. The staff added it is popular due to its good fragrance and taste and has monthly sales of 95 bags.
 
Comparatively, a Taobao shop which sells rice from Northeast China has monthly sale of more than 30,000 bags. 
 
Exports of Niigata rice were permitted after General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China issued announcement in November 2018.

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Japanese media pushing Fukushima rice as ‘safe to eat’

n-fukushima-a-20181015-870x625.jpg
A Honnoriya staff member displays rice balls at the company’s Tokyo Station outlet. Honnoriya offers rice balls made with the Aizu Koshihikari brand from Fukushima Prefecture.

After 16 years, Fukushima’s Aizu Koshihikari still the brand of choice for popular Tokyo rice ball shop

 
Oct 14, 2018
A popular rice ball shop stands near Tokyo Station’s Yaesu Central Gate, drawing long lines of customers waiting to buy products made with rice from Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture, known for remaining soft with a touch of sweetness even when it gets cold.
As it takes less than a minute to make the rice balls, customers don’t have to wait long at Honnoriya, a rice ball chain operated by JR East Food Business Co.
From actors, athletes and comedians to politicians and culinary maestros, many say they are fans of the rice balls. After it was featured on the popular TBS television show “Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai” (“The World Unknown to Matsuko”), a rush of traffic swarmed Honnoriya’s website, temporarily shutting it down.
Sadafumi Yamagiwa, president of JR East Food, said the secret of the chain’s popularity is the quality of the rice — Koshihikari rice produced in Fukushima’s Aizu region.
“It’s because the rice tastes good. The Aizu Koshihikari rice is chewy, making it different from other rice,” Yamagiwa said.
The firm uses Aizu Koshihikari in all of its 13 outlets located in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. At the main shop in Tokyo, around 7,000 rice balls are sold on busy days. In fiscal 2017, a total of 252 tons of rice were consumed at its 13 stores.
Since Honnoriya opened its first outlet at Tokyo Station in March 2002, it has continued to use Koshihikari brand. Despite having been awarded the top “special A” ranking by the Japan Grain Inspection Association, Aizu Koshihikari is cheap compared with other varieties produced in different regions, Yamagiwa said.
Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the ensuing nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, many consumers avoided produce from the prefecture. The company also received many inquiries about the safety of the rice, and employee opinions differed over which brand should be used.
But as blanket radiation checks conducted on Fukushima-grown rice found no radioactive material, such concern gradually eased, Yamagiwa said.
He stressed that the company has been using Aizu Koshihikari solely for the reason that it tastes good. “It’s not like we’ve been using the rice to support the disaster-hit regions,” he said.
Each year, the company chooses a rice brand after comparing the tastes of different varieties produced in different parts of the country.
For the past 16 years, there has been no rice that surpassed Koshihikari produced in Aizu, Yamagiwa said, meaning that Aizu Koshihikari has consistently won the internal competition every single year.
This section features topics and issues from Fukushima covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on Sept. 30.

October 17, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

EU to lift import curbs on rice from Fukushima, more deals likely

european commission fuk rice 27 sept 2017.pngA farmer plants rice seedlings in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, in May

 

The European Commission is set to relax import restrictions on rice from Fukushima Prefecture that were imposed after the 2011 nuclear disaster, sources said.

The import curbs could be eased as early as this year and prompt other countries, including major markets like China, to follow suit, the sources added.

In addition to rice from Fukushima Prefecture, the EU is expected to remove restrictions on some seafood products from Iwate, Miyagi and other prefectures.

All restrictions on products from Akita Prefecture will likely also be lifted, thereby abolishing all curbs on rice grown in Japan.

The United States on Sept. 22 decided to allow imports of milk and dairy products from Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures without inspection certificates stating they are free of radioactive materials.

The EU move follows a general agreement on an economic partnership in July, during which EU officials informed Japan of plans to relax import restrictions on agricultural products. The two sides have been discussing the issue since then.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709270035.html

September 29, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 2 Comments