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Typhoons spare Okinawa but jack up food prices

Date Posted: 2004-10-14

Fresh foods, vegetables, fruits and seafood are becoming more expensive.

Okinawa market specialists attribute the price increases to the seasonís typhoons which have caused havoc to the country as a whole, while bypassing Okinawa. More importantly, they predict prices will soar even more as the Fall produce harvests have lower yields.

Kyushu area farmers have been battered by the typhoons, reducing growth. Far away Hokkaido and Nagano Prefectures, where cold area vegetables and greens are growing, are also predicting price hikes.

Costs are up •170-200 for cucumbers, a kilogram of tomatoes has jumped from •296 to •420, green peppers up from •240 to •390, and salad lettuce up from •188 to •300. Growers say spinach prices are also up. They say people will probably turn to frozen foods this winter instead of fresh vegetables.

Fresh fish is also more expensive. While Okinawans eat fish and sashimi almost daily, theyíre used to buying fresh. Since the typhoons though, fish are in short supply and high demand because fishermen couldnít take their boats out.

Even restaurants are feeling the pinch. Kyushu and Hokkaido fish are popular, but shortages have caused suppliers to fly fish to Okinawa. And thatís expensive.

Tunaís most expensive part, toro, the fatty flesh, is more than •1,000 for two small pieces. Despite the costs, many Okinawans say they have to have their fish, and will pay the price.

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