COVID-19 ZAPS JAPAN’S TUNA MARKET, WORLD’S BIGGEST
Japan’s tuna market, the world’s largest, is taking an outsized hit from the coronavirus pandemic, pressuring restaurants and wholesalers at Tokyo’s sprawling Toyosu fish market to adapt to survive, Daniel Leussink reported for Reuters late on September 4, 2020.
Demand for fresh fish, especially the so-called “king of sushi” bluefin tuna, has slumped as the pandemic wiped out orders for events. Tuna prices dropped 8.4% in July from a year earlier, far steeper than the 1.5% annual fall in overall fresh fish prices, government data showed.
“Our sales are down by 60% compared to last August,” said 47-year old Yasuyuki Shimahara, owner of an “izakaya” dining bar specializing in tuna dishes in Tokyo’s Kanda business area.
Kimio Amano, a 46-year old wholesaler at Toyosu, the world’s largest fish market, said the increase in household consumption had not been enough to make up for lost business elsewhere. While there was a modest rebound in demand from restaurants for his fish after the state of emergency was lifted, he said big events and business from upscale dining bars, such as those in Tokyo’s Ginza area, had been slow to resume. That meant he was losing out on big orders, since customers tended to buy 30 to 40 kilograms (kgs) of tuna at a time for events such as wedding banquets and funerals, while sushi restaurants and izakayas generally placed smaller orders of around 10kgs and 6kgs, respectively.