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60% of Young Japanese See Japan’s Low Food Self-sufficiency Rate as a Problem [2020/12/16]

Q: Do you consider Japan’s low food self-sufficiency rate (38%) to be a problem?”

Almost 60% (59.8%) of young people in Japan consider the nation’s low food self-sufficiency rate to be a problem, with a large majority of them (77.9%) expressing concern that the country would not be able to cope if there was a food shortage. 

These are the findings of a nationwide online survey The Nippon Foundation conducted from October 9 to 14 on the subject of “New Foods,” covering 1,000 Japanese aged between 17 and 19.

Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate on a calories-supply basis stood at 38% in fiscal 2019, meaning it depends on imports for much more than half of its domestic food consumption.

Asked what should be done to better prepare the nation for food shortages, respondents said Japan needs to revitalize its agriculture (23.6%), change consumers’ mindsets (13.6%) and secure labor force for food production (11.8%). 

The survey also found that one in four young Japanese (25.2%) said their diet and eating habits have changed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Of these, more than one in eight (84.5%) said that they are eating out less often, while nearly two in three (65.1%) said they are spending more time having meals with family.

Asked whether they see the possibilities of technological innovation in food, close to 40% (38.6%) answered in the affirmative, with top areas of potential applications of innovation being to reduce food waste (70.2%), create better-tasting meals (56.2%), and develop more environmentally friendly industries (52.3%).

On possible alternative sources of protein, close to one third (32.6%) named meat substitutes and insect-based food products as future food sources. Queried whether they would want to try such substitute food products, 43.3% said they are interested in trying meat substitutes and 16.2% in sampling insect-based food products.

Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate based on a calories-supply basis peaked above 70% in 1965, but has been on a constant decline since to stand at 38% in fiscal 2019, ranking around 100th in the world. The rate shows how much domestic consumption is met by domestic production.

The poll followed reports that almost 20 countries, including Russia, India and Vietnam, started restricting their exports of wheat and rice as they try to ease pressure on the domestic market amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Trade Organization (WTO) in its regulations allows member states to impose trade restrictions on food products when faced with dire food shortages.

The respondents of the survey acknowledged that such export restrictions are inevitable as countries have no choice but to put domestic needs first.

In March this year, the Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry delayed the target year of raising the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate to 45% from fiscal 2025 to fiscal 2030. 

As many experts say, one of the pillars of our national security is a sufficient supply of safe and affordable food. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to indicate the urgent need for Japan to look anew into how to revitalize its agriculture−a sector long considered to be in structural decline.

Q: Have your diet and eating habits changed as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic?
Q: Of respondents whose diet and eating habits had changed, in which of the following ways have your diet and eating habits changed as a result of the novel coronavirus?

Q: Do you see possibilities for technological innovation in food?
Q: Do you see meat substitutes and insect-based food products as future food sources?

Q: Would you be interested in trying meat substitutes?

Q: Would you be interested in trying insect-based food products?

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:43 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)