Japanese town forced to change school meals to tackle soaring commodity prices

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MAEBASHI — Soaring food prices are clouding school lunch menus in a Japanese city, with fried dishes served less frequently and meat replaced with soybeans.

According to an estimate released by Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture, on the impact of food price spikes on school meals in the city, the price of salad oil will rise by around 70% in the financial year. 2022 compared to the previous year. To cut down on suddenly expensive cooking oil, Shibukawa now serves fried dishes once or twice a month, instead of the usual three or four.

The city calculated food purchase prices assuming that the free school meals program in municipal elementary and secondary schools will serve approximately 5,500 children this fiscal year, the same number as in the year. financial year 2021.

In fiscal 2022, the purchase price of “coupe pan,” a type of bread resembling a hot dog bun, is expected to increase 4.5% from fiscal 2021. Chinese noodles are expected to increase by 1.5%. As the commercial price of soybeans remains high, the cost of purchasing refined soybean oil is expected to rise by 62.5%.

Additionally, vegetable prices are also increasing due to weather conditions, including lack of sunshine this season, as well as soaring crude oil prices. The price of Chinese leek rose 109.8%, while that of onion and Japanese daikon radish rose 89.4% and 75.6%, respectively.

In response to soaring food prices, the city shifted from fresh to canned or frozen foods, such as mushrooms and corn, beginning in late fiscal 2021. The city also shifted to chicken breast instead of chicken thigh and uses soy. instead of minced meat to reduce costs.

(Japanese original by Tetsuya Shoji, Bureau Maebashi)

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