In the aftermath of the devastation in Japan Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of Sushi.
Dudi Afriat of the Rakuto Kasei company:
“There may be a shortage of sushi components, but we are still studying the situationâ€¦ We’ll be wiser once the situation in Japan stabilizes and the reconstruction beginsâ€¦I assume we’ll know if there is going to be a shortage in the coming week. The main fear is of a shortage of the Kikkoman soy sauce. One Kikkoman factory in Japan was damaged and there have been delays in the supply, but we hope it won’t stop the regular chain of supply.”
“Most of the containers arrive in Israel from the US, but the entire management is in Japanâ€¦At the moment, it’s very difficult communicating with them. There are a lot of disruptions. Yesterday I spoke with our contact in Japan, and he said it took him 10 hours to get to the office from homeâ€¦So at the moment the situation is unclear, and it all depends on the Japanese. I trust them, because they love the soy sauce more than we do. My only fear is that they’ll have to import Kikkoman from the US, and that will affect the imports to Israelâ€¦About 85% of the soy sauce used in Israel is Kikkoman. This is a very unusual figure in the worldâ€¦Israeli chefs feel very connected to this product. After the tsunami I received phone calls from hysterical people fearing a shortage of Kikkoman.”
Other products that could be affected due to problems in importing or damaged factories are miso (traditional Japanese seasoning), pickled Japanese pumpkin and cabbage, and certain kinds of seaweed. A deficiency could also be felt in the wasabi supply.
“The Japanese food unit in Israel has grown by some 800% in the past five or six yearsâ€¦Five years ago, there were up to 20 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv. Today there are more than 130. A survey we conducted recently revealed that sushi is the No. 2 take away food in Israelâ€¦Kikkoman, the world’s biggest commercial brand, has an amazing infiltration level. It can be found in one-third of Israeli households, and itâ€™s clearly a Japanese product. Surprisingly, we bring real naturally fermented soy sauce, which costs much more than other types of soy available in stores, and Israelis still appreciate and purchase itâ€¦We import 900 kilograms (1,984pounds) of Kikkoman bottles a year, and 54 tons of rice for sushi a month. It’s an amazing amount. Tel Aviv is the fifth city in the world in the consumption of sushi per capita, and fourth in the world in the number of sushi restaurants per capita.”