National

Prices down for Japan-grown matsutake thanks to good weather

Kyodo

Domestic matsutake mushrooms, usually a high-priced autumn delicacy, have become more affordable due to a good harvest, with wholesale prices halving in some areas.

Transaction volumes for Japan-grown matsutake rose 40 percent from a year earlier and they have been selling well due to lower prices, traders said.

On the other hand, prices of imported matsutake, which are cheaper and mostly come from China, have been rising, with their transaction volume declining.

For a good matsutake harvest, a moderate amount of rainfall is necessary through September, when temperatures go down.

In Nagano Prefecture, known as a major mushroom producer, rainfall and ground temperatures were both favorable for matsutake this year, according to the prefecture’s forestry industry center.

The total amount of domestic matsutake mushrooms traded at the Tsukiji wholesale market in Tokyo in August and September reached 4 tons, an increase of about 1.2 tons from a year earlier. The average wholesale price per kilogram fell around 30 percent.

The price of matsutake from Nagano fell by about half from the year before to around ¥25,000.

Matsutake from another major producing area, Iwate Prefecture, saw about a 20 percent fall in the average wholesale price to some ¥47,000.

“Some domestically produced matsutake fetched ¥100,000 per 400 grams in the previous year because of scarce quantities. But the highest price this year was about ¥70,000,” said an intermediate wholesaler at the Ota Market in Tokyo.

The Daimaru department store in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, said its price for matsutake was down 10 to 20 percent from the previous year and sales have been strong.

The situation is the same at stores of major retailer Aeon Co., a company official said.

The Ginza Wakuta restaurant in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district features autumn dishes using both domestic and imported matsutake.

“This year, many domestic matsutake were available by mid-October and their prices were reasonable as well,” the owner said.

In contrast, matsutake imports have been declining in recent years, halving from 2009 to 2017 along with falling consumption of the mushrooms, which are considered a little pricey by many shoppers.

Chinese matsutake prices rose about 10 percent to some ¥7,900 per kilogram at one point, with trading volume falling 20 percent from a year earlier, according to one of the traders.