WASHINGTON — Food-loving Japanese eat more rice than any other Asian nation, and a new study says the nation is a major player in the world of rice cultivation and growing.
In the study by the nonprofit Food Innovation Lab, released Monday, the researchers at Kyoto University looked at how Japanese are using rice as a staple ingredient in Japan’s domestic cuisine.
They looked at the number of Japanese who grew rice, the amount of rice sold and the average price of rice, which they said is a good indicator of food consumption.
While Japanese are consuming a lot more rice today than they did when the United States entered World War II, they are also growing more of it than any previous generation, said Rina Takayama, a research scientist at Food Innovation.
And that means that we are going to see a rise in demand for rice, she said.
The study, “Japan and the Food Revolution: The Rising Rise of Japanese Rice Consumption,” looked at food consumption from 1990 to 2016 and found that Japanese people consumed roughly 10 times more rice per person in Japan than they do now.
That was in addition to the increase in consumption of noodles, which the study said accounted for another 20 times more.
“We know that rice consumption is rising, but we don’t really know how much of that rise comes from rice consumption itself,” said Takayame.
“This is something we are looking at as we move forward.”
Takayama said the rising demand for food in Japan is also contributing to a rapid increase in production of rice.
She said Japan is already producing rice to meet rising demand in China and India.
She added that the rise in rice production will allow Japan to produce enough rice for the population of the country.
The researchers also looked at Japan’s imports of rice and wheat.
In 2020, the number that Japan imported increased to more than 2.5 million metric tons.
That is more than the amount it imported from China in 2020.
Takahashi said that rising demand could result in a drop in Japan being able to produce as much rice as it needs to feed the population.
The growing demand for the food industry in Japan has also led to a rise of prices, which are a big part of why people are buying more food, Takayake said.
That’s partly because people are more aware of the quality of their food and are also buying more and more things that are less healthy, such as rice, Takahashi added.
The food-related price rise, however, is expected to be offset by higher production of the rice used to feed Japan’s growing population, Takashi said.
As demand for Japanese food grows, so does production of food-grade rice, according to Takayaka.
Japan will need to keep growing its production of agricultural rice for more than a decade to meet the country’s growing demand, she added.
Tatsuya Sakamoto, a researcher at the Institute of Public Policy at Kyoto, said that rice is becoming a major part of Japanese society and society is becoming more aware that there is a demand for it.
But, he added, the rise of the food-friendly image that the Japanese have come to hold over the past decade, and the food companies’ marketing of the product, could change that.
“I think that people are starting to realize that there’s an issue with their health and they’re starting to think about this issue,” he said.
“So, it’s a time for Japan to change its image.”
The report was published by the Food Innovation Institute, a non-profit group that researches and promotes food and agriculture issues worldwide.