Japan to see price hikes in food, tobacco products from Oct.

Japan will experience price hikes in some food and tobacco products as well as services from October, partly due to a spike in global raw material prices, dealing a further blow to households hit by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Starting Friday, dairy producers Meiji Co. and Megmilk Snow Brand Co. will increase prices of their margarine products, as international prices have soared due to a surge in global demand and lowered output in major producing areas due to poor weather.

People wearing face masks for protection against the coronavirus walk in Osaka’s Minami area on Sept. 28, 2021. (Kyodo)

For Meiji, the retail price will increase by up to 12.8 percent and the Megmilk Snow Brand will pass on an up to 12.2 percent bump.

Food and beverage maker Ajinomoto AGF Inc. is increasing the price of its 40 coffee products, estimating they will soar some 20 percent.

According to Ajinomoto AGF, it expects the inflated market rate to remain so for the time being, citing the anticipated recovery in global demand for coffee with economic activities gradually resuming after the pandemic.

Under the government’s repeated state of emergency declarations over the pandemic since spring last year, people have been asked to refrain from nonessential outings while businesses were asked to temporarily shut down or shorten their operating hours.

Japan’s economy has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels mainly due to sluggish consumer spending, which could be affected by the price hikes.

Following a cigarette tax hike in October, Japan Tobacco Inc. will revise its pricing, with the per-pack price for Seven Stars, one of the company’s signature brands, increasing from 560 yen ($5) to 600 yen.

Among other price hikes starting in November, major frozen-food maker Nichirei Foods Inc. will increase prices of consumer products by some 4 to 8 percent. Prices for commercial sales will rise around 3 to 10 percent to “maintain current product quality and stable supply.”

Residents will also face higher utility bills in November.

The monthly household electricity bill for an average household will be 73 to 171 yen higher than in October, while the natural gas bill for an average home is set to climb by 91 yen, at most, according to power and gas companies across the nation.

Households in Japan will also see from next year price changes in other products such as bread.

The prices of bread and udon noodles will increase around January, following an announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of a 19 percent price rise on average for six months from October for wheat imported by the government and sold on to private milling firms.

The farm ministry has cited “China’s brisk buying” and “a large increase in sea freight costs” behind its decision to increase prices.

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