Posts Tagged ‘moyashi’

Deflation Watch: bean sprouts

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Bean down so long: Cheap moyashi is still the norm

Bean down so long: Cheap moyashi is still the norm

Last week Tokyo Shimbun reported that an industry association of food producers sent letters to supermarket chains and other food retailers saying that they had reached their limit of patience. This particular association represents companies that produce moyashi, or bean sprouts, a pretty lowly item, even within the realm of produce, and one that is not strictly agricultural in nature.

Though bean sprouts definitely qualify as vegetables, almost all Japanese producers import the basic ingredient, which is mung beans (ryokuto or midori mame), and then make them sprout in factories. In other words, no land cultivation is involved. Bean sprout production is a ridiculously simple process, since all it entails is making the mung beans wet, setting them aside for a few days to sprout, and then packaging them.

The moyashi association is saying that production costs have become untenable, which sounds strange considering how easy the process is, but what they’re really talking about is the cost of mung beans, 80 percent of which are imported from China, mainly Jilin Province, where farmers are switching over to corn because the price of animal feed has gone up and they can make more money. Consequently, the market price for mung beans has also gone up, by as much as 30 percent since a year ago.

CONTINUE READING about the cost of bean sprouts

Tracking the recession with the Moyashi Index

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Not just for rabbits any more!

Not just for rabbits any more!

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications just released economic figures for the last quarter of calendar year 2009. Their survey found that the average expenditures of a Japanese household, including one-person households, was ¥253,720. That’s a 2.9 percent decrease from the same quarter in 2008, or 1.4 percent down if you take into consideration price changes.

This figure means little unless you know the  income of an average family, which has 2.79 members and an average age of 45.2 years. Among “working households,” meaning households whose income is from employment and not from pensions, the average monthly income was ¥464, 649, which represented a 4.6 percent drop from the same quarter the previous year, or 3.1 percent after adjustment.

These statistics indicate that households spent less because of a decrease in earnings, and since certain expenses can’t be cut or reduced, such as utilities and expenses for education, the ministry tried to figure out what these households were doing without. Leisure, eating out and clothing were three items that received the axe, and since more people were eating at home, they also tried to save money at the supermarket.

And according to the Asahi Shimbun, the ministry found that households consisting of two persons or more reported a 10 percent increase in their consumption of moyashi (bean sprouts) over the same quarter in 2008. In fact, the ministry discovered that moyashi consumption has increased steadily over a period of 10 consecutive quarters.

The focus on the lowly bean sprout here would seem to indicate that the ministry has decided moyashi is a good index for determining the economic health of the average household. Moyashi are cheap and plentiful. A bag weighing 200 grams is usually between  ¥35 and ¥40 yen in a supermarket, but you can usually buy the same amount for ¥29 in discount food stores and even cheaper on special sales days. Japanese traditionally use moyashi to increase volume for any number of dishes, but there’s also a whole  food culture built around the sprout. Made from mung beans, they are also notoriously nutritious and always in season, since they aren’t “grown” in soil but rather sprouted in water. What’s interesting is that the government assumes people are buying more moyashi not because they like it or want a healthier diet, but because they want to save money. We won’t argue with that, but we also really like moyashi. Especially in ramen.

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