Chinese Consumers Import Japanese Rice as Safe Substitute to Untrusted Local Rice

By | Jan 26, 2015 05:46 AM EST
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China's expanded farming rights

Farmers form a Chinese national flag with red peppers, unhusked rice and kidney beans to celebrate the upcoming 65th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, in Wuyuan county, Jiangxi province September 27, 2014. Picture taken September 27, 2014. (Photo : Reuters/Stringer)

Japanese rice is the latest luxury good that Chinese consumers will be importing in to their country for everyday consumption. The reason for it is that people from China do not trust their local alternatives anymore.

First, it was European infant formula that was imported. Afterwards, it was milk from New Zealand. Now, the next imported luxury good is Japanese rice because Chinese people don't feel that the rice in their country is safe anymore.

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According to Japan's National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, China does not export much rice. The volume of rice imported from China was only 160 tonnes in 2014.

The figure is more than triple the total in 2013 though. This trend shows China's receding confidence for their local goods.

A seller called Ying Ying has begun selling Japanese rice on the Taobao online marketplace only last year.

Ying Ying says the reason for the shift is that Chinese farmers use pesticides, while Japanese farmers do not pollute their rice with any heavy metals.

It is no secret that China is now heavily affected with air pollution. However, it has affected the country so much that it has affected soil and water as well.

Samples from southern China in 2013 showed that 33 percent of their rice samples contained excessive levels of the metal cadmium.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection did a study last April that estimated that 16.1 percent of China's soil was contaminated. The pollution is reported to be so bad that even farmers don't eat what they grow.

Japanese rice though, while clean, is an odd replacement to go for.

It is an expensive and scarce resource to find in China. When imported by Chinese grain trader COFCO, a kilogram of Japanese rice sells for 74 Chinese yuan, which roughly equates to $12.

However, the price is not something that deters buyers. The great texture and taste is apparently worth every penny, one buyer wrote on Taobao.

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