"I've never had better rice than this."

Selling coal to Newcastle is a British idiom describing a foolhardy or pointless action. Well, here in Asia, Japan is now exporting its rice to Chinese (rich) customers at prices 10-20 times the cost of local rice.

Yomiuri Shimbun is extatic, and notes that one shopper said, "I've never had better rice than this." Come on, is that journalism?

Yomiuri: Japanese rice on Chinese shelves / Koshihikari, Hitomebore back in shops after 4-year ban lifted by Beijing

A two-kilogram pack of Koshihikari rice was on sale for 198 yuan (3,200 yen) while a two-kilogram pack of Hitomebore was priced at 188 yuan (3,008 yen). On the other hand, locally grown rice is available for about 8 yuan, less than one-twentieth of the cost of Japanese rice.

In China, more than 200 million tons of rice are consumed annually while Japanese only eat about 9 million tons.

In urban areas of China, the number of wealthy people have rapidly increased, so experts believe that a potentially huge rice market exists in China if Japanese rice is accepted by the nouveaux riches as a luxury food and gift item.

However, there are other hurdles to overcome before Japanese rice is widely sold in China, apart from the high prices. In China, Chinese versions of the Koshihikari and Hitomebore names have already been registered locally, so Chinese translations were not permitted on the packaging, which are labeled as "produced in Niigata Prefecture" and "produced in Miyagi Prefecture," rather than the descriptions familiar to Japanese consumers.

Comments

Pandabonium said…
And the reason for the price difference is what? Marketing. I'd like to see an objective blind taste test. :p

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