As of May, prices for more than 8,000 items had either increased or were due to increase, with the increase coming in at 12% on average. GaijinPot looks at some of the predicted increases and what they mean.
You would be amazed at the number of things that contain wheat. Even foods you’d never suspect like soy sauce have traces of its golden goodness.
The conflicts in the east have disrupted supply, and while it has undoubtedly had an effect, it is only part of the recent trend for rising wheat prices. The cost of wheat started rising long before then because of increasing demand in previously untapped markets, such as the African continent and parts of Asia.
When combined with droughts caused by extreme weather, recent times have been hard for the world’s favorite crop.
As wheat becomes more expensive, it will affect almost all processed foods. The recent report included items such as ham, sausages, cup noodles and frozen foods with increases in the 10-20% range. However, all is not doom and gloom for people who love the fluffy white bread of their breakfast set in Japan, as wheat tends to be quite flexible price-wise, so sudden falls in price are not unheard of.
You’re likely to discover just how many things include corn. Corn syrup is found in pretty much every kind of cheaply priced cookie and cake as a teeth-achingly sweet alternative to cane sugar. Similarly, cornstarch is used as an easy way to make products crispier.
Like the rise in wheat prices, the rise in corn prices spurred by droughts and high transportation costs are likely to significantly impact your favorite cookies and snacks.
There will be an approximate 11% increase in the price of snack foods and a 9% increase in baked foods. Expect foods as diverse as nachos, most sweets, Indian foods, juice and even baked foods to increase in price as they all have some variant of corn in their ingredients.
A sudden rise in the price of crude oil happens so often that it doesn’t surprise most of us anymore. The famous Benjamin Franklin quote about nothing being certain except life, death and taxes could easily include the price of a tank of gas rising as one of its inevitabilities these days.
However, the recent increases in oil prices, primarily due to unrest in oil-producing regions may have unexpected knock-on effects.
One of the strange things about oil is that as well as a fuel, it also has industrial uses, especially in making PET products.
One of the big surprises of this is that plastic, such as that used in plastic bottles and containers, is likely to get more expensive. Of course, in a perfect world, this would mean that Japan would consider tampering down on its excessive use of plastic bags and containers, but in the real world, prices would rise instead.
4. Cooking oil
While the crude oil crisis happens so often that most people are pretty used to it, the world is also facing another oil crisis, a cooking oil crisis. Expect knock-on effects on everything from perineal Asian favorite noodles and dressings to chocolate and mayonnaise to be affected. The increase was about 10% for most oil seasonings and dressings.
The reasons for the cooking oil crisis are complicated.
Droughts have also caused Indonesia to be more protective about exporting palm oil, coupled with questions about its environmental and forestry impacts, which has caused its price to look like the blueprints for the most incredible roller coaster ever.
The prices of alcoholic beverages, including beer and shochu, will rise due to the soaring cost of basic ingredients like malt and corn. Similarly, the weaker yen will impact imported tipples like wine and vodka.
On top of that, the recent trend is that the younger generation isn’t really interested in drinking a lot and going crazy, preferring more moderate drinking with friends.
All of this combined led to an increase of 15% in the prices of most alcoholic beverages with wine, beer and chuhai (a canned Japanese cocktail drink) particularly affected.
While a life without snack foods and booze may seem unacceptable, it is worth remembering that it isn’t all doom and gloom as products often fluctuate in price depending on harvests and seasons.
What other products do you think will get more expensive this year? Comment your predictions below.