August 20, 2008


Japan tofu company increases reliance on local soy as prices rise


Shinozakiya Inc , Japan's only listed tofu maker, will use more locally grown soy and less from Canada next year as a jump in the cost of imports makes local soy more attractive.


The company is in talks with supermarkets on a second price hike after one last November, Reuters reported.


Prices of non-GM imported soy have doubled from a year earlier, mainly from Canada and the US, placing financial pressures on the country's tofu makers.


Japan's tofu industry uses about 380,000 tonnes of imported non-GM soy a year, almost half of the country's total demand for soy for food use of 1 million tonnes.


Shinozakiya uses some 10,000 tonnes of non-GM soy a year, more than half of which came from Canada until last year. The company is using about 1,000 tonnes of locally grown soy this year and will use at least 2,000 tonnes next year, the company said.


Shinozakiya has a long-term contract with soy farmers in Ohio in the US and continues to buy about 4,000 tonnes a year of non-GM soy from them.


It has no immediate plans to use South American soy after a test on Argentine beans was unsatisfactory.


Japanese soy sauce makers already use shipments containing GM soy to make their products but tofu makers have so far resist doing so.


That decision may be costly: Shinozakiya has already been making losses for three years aims to avoid posting a fourth year of losses next year.


Shinozakiya hiked its wholesale product prices by up to 30 percent last November, enabling it to absorb higher soy prices.

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