Food products that contain processed chicken, such as karaage fried chicken, are in short supply at some convenience stores and family restaurants in Japan, with production halted in Thailand since around the summer amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major convenience store and family restaurant chains are adjusting the volume of products on sale to deal with the shortage in the run-up to the high-demand season around Christmas.

Convenience store industry-leader Seven-Eleven Japan Co. has had difficulty procuring “karaagebo” and “nanachiki” products made in Thailand. The company has reduced supplies to some regions so the products will be available again to customers as usual around Christmas, a spokesman said.

FamilyMart Co. has reduced supplies of its “Famichiki” across the nation and expects to be able to sell sufficient amounts of the product in mid-December.

Frozen foods for households are in short supply as well.

Since early October, Ajinomoto Frozen Foods Co. has faced shortages of six products, including “the karaage,” produced at its plant in Thailand. The plant has now returned to regular operations, which should allow the company to restart usual sales by the end of November, company officials said.

Among restaurant operators, Saizeriya Co. is experiencing shortages of chicken wings. It has cut the number of “karami chicken” pieces from five to four per dish without changing the price, with no prospect of restoring the serving size to normal, company officials said. Makoto Tani, chairman and president of Skylark Holdings Co., said companies are competing to procure chicken from Brazil, a major exporter.

By contrast, major convenience store chain Lawson Inc. uses domestic chicken for its “karaagekun,” as does Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan Ltd. for its products, so they have not suffered supply shortages.

An official at the agriculture ministry’s Meat and Egg Division said, “The spread of coronavirus infections in Thailand is affecting (Japanese businesses) with a time lag.”

The official is worried that the situation may become serious, as bird flu outbreaks are hitting Japan at a time when domestic chicken prices are rising.

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