- Title: PHILIPPINES: Japanese food stores in Manila feel pinch of supply shortages
- Date: 26th March 2011
- Summary: MANILA, PHILIPPINES (MARCH 24, 2011) (REUTERS) WIDE VIEW OF JAPANESE GROCERY STORE WITH A MOTHER AND CHILD BUYING GOODS
- Embargoed: 10th April 2011 13:00
- Location: Philippines, Philippines
- Country: Philippines
- Topics: Disasters / Accidents / Natural catastrophes
- Reuters ID: LVA48K40TY4C7HZ33B61H2EBEZGG
- Story Text: Japanese food marts and restaurants in Manila have started experiencing shortages as the devastation in Japan hits supplies of imported goods.
Japanese food marts and specialty restaurants in Manila have started feeling the impact of the devastation in Japan as food imports are slowing down, increasing the risks of future supply shortages.
In a Japanese food grocery near a public market in Manila, stocks have been running low as shipments of Japanese imported goods have been delayed for over a week.
Fe Viray, store supervisor at Darumaya Japanese Food Center which also supplies ingredients to Japanese restaurants, says the owners have been on a panic buying spree since last week, following reports of radiation contamination in Japan.
"Right now it seems business is actually more brisk, because there's panic and customers are buying more. The problem will start when our stocks run out," Viray said.
She added that most of the items running out of supply were soy sauce, vinegar and rice wines typically found in Japanese dishes.
She fears that if the shipments do not come within a few weeks, they might have to close the shop.
In Japan, the battle to contain an overheating nuclear plant continues, and two workers suffered radiation injuries on Thursday (March 24).
Contamination fears mounted, as above safety radiation levels were found in vegetables from areas near Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant, prompting some countries in the Asia Pacific region to restrict food imports from Japan.
Japanese authorities have maintained that the contamination was not an immediate risk to health.
In Manila's 'Little Tokyo', a hub of authentic Japanese restaurants, businesses are slowly suffering due to the lack of some Japanese ingredients.
Masahiro Mizumoto, a Japanese chef in one of the restaurants, said he could no longer create many dishes since most of the ingredients he uses come from his homeland.
His restaurant offers dishes with most ingredients coming from Tokyo. The number of customers has been decreasing since last week, he said, possibly caused by fears over Japan's nuclear radiation leak.
Mizumoto said his dishes are all radiation free, since all of the imported ingredients arrived before the March 11 quake.
His problem right now is the lack of Japanese ingredients like imported fish and other cooking ingredients needed to create his dishes.
"At the moment, there has not been much effect. But in Japan, people are buying up certain things and stocks are running low and we are starting to have problems in sourcing some ingredients," Mizumoto says.
He says most Japanese restaurants in Manila have opted to use local ingredients in some dishes, and have increased prices on some menu items which do not have a substitute, as supplies start to run dry.
While customers still come despite the radiation fears in Japan, some are getting anxious and have even thought about staying away from Japanese restaurants if the situation gets worse.
"We love Japanese food and stuff. What we're worrying about is the rising costs of the dishes and the shortage of fish and spices coming from them. That's basically our concern, and also the radiation of course," says restaurant customer Vanjie Del Mundo.
The Philippines has not yet issued any restrictions on Japanese imports, but officials are closely monitoring radiation levels in shipments from Japan, which is causing delays of import deliveries.
Japan is one of the Philippines' largest trading partners in East Asia, and accounts for over 14 percent of the Philippines' global imports.
Countries such as Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan have begun restricting imports of Japanese food from areas near the nuclear zone.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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