Food makers are feeling the effects of the economic policies of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, though not in a good way, as the weaker yen drives up prices of wheat, cooking oil and other imported raw materials.
This side effect of Abenomics has been especially troublesome for the food industry, as consumers tend to look for lower prices when buying food products.
Many complaints were voiced about the rising cost of imported soybeans at a general meeting of Zentouren, a national federation of tofu makers’ associations, in Tokyo on Friday.
Soybeans make up about 90 per cent of the cost of making tofu, and about 80 per cent of the beans are imported. Global prices have been pushed up by a drought in the United States–a major producer–which has exacerbated the effect of the weaker yen.
Many tofu makers are small or midsize firms that have little bargaining power over retail prices. “A lot of companies can’t raise prices and have for some time been in the red. Their businesses are stretched to the limits,” said Yasuhiro Saito, Zentouren’s chairman.
Confectionery makers are also hesitant to raise prices. When the cost of raw materials surged in 2008, some firms raised prices or reduced the size of their products, only to see overall sales decline.
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