• Kyodo

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A retailer in northern Japan has come up with a product it hopes will help turn around the country’s declining appetite for rice: several varieties of the staple sold in PET bottles to appeal to young people.

More than 30 brands are on offer, including the popular Hitomebore and Akitakomachi varieties, in 350-milliliter PeboRa PET bottles. They sell for between about ¥400 and ¥900, mainly on the website of retailer Pebora.

The small portions allow consumers to try different rice brands and are suited to single-person households, the company says. It is also convenient for outdoor cooking as the rice inside does not need to be washed before it is cooked.

Pebora President Seiko Kawamura said he began selling the product in April 2015, hoping to “attract young people’s attention” after he became alarmed by the drop in the country’s rice consumption, which has fallen due to changes in the public’s eating habits.

Annual rice consumption per person stood at some 55 kg as of fiscal 2015, which ended last March, roughly half of its peak of 118 kg in fiscal 1962, according to the farm ministry.

The company sold about 50,000 bottles in one year, and now plans to expand its sales channels to department stores in Tokyo and major household goods stores, it said.

“We hope to package rice brands from around the country in Pebora to sell them and promote Japanese rice globally,” said Kawamura.

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