As the weakening yen bites into profits, a number of Japanese food suppliers hiked prices Monday on a wide range of products, including ham, sausage, pasta, bread and mayonnaise, dealing a blow to consumers who have yet to see a pay raise thanks to “Abenomics.”
Generally, the items most sensitive to currency movements are made from imported grain, or oil from imported seeds. Animal feed, much of which comes from abroad, has also helped push up chicken and pork prices.
“There are many reasons for the price hike but, above all, the biggest reason is the currency,” said Takaharu Kiuchi, a spokesman for Prima Meat Packers Ltd.
Rather than directly charge more for their products, ham and sausage makers are instead putting less in their packages. For example, on Monday industry leader Nippon Meat Packers Inc. began shipping lighter packages of 89 ham and sausage products. The same goes for 62 processed food products, including chicken nuggets and hamburger. The move translates to an 8 percent price hike on average, the processed meat maker said.
Similarly, partly through size reductions, Prima also raised the prices on domestic items by 7 percent on average and imported prepared food by 13 percent. Itoham Foods Inc. will charge 8 percent more on average for ham, sausage and other items starting July 22.
The companies blamed the hikes in part on the rising price of imported plastics used for packaging as well as vegetable oil.
In April, the lower yen prompted the government to raise the wholesale price of imported wheat by an average of 9.7 percent to ¥54,990 per ton, the second rise since October.
Consequently, wheat flour and bread makers raised prices.
Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. raised wheat prices by 2 to 7 percent and pasta sauce prices by 9 to 11 percent.