Japan Rice Sold for Animal Feed Eats Into 11-Year High Surplus

Jul 31, 2014 3:17 am ET

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Rice stockpiles in Japan declined from an 11-year high after an industry group bought some of the country’s surplus to sell as livestock feed, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said today.

Inventories of Japanese food rice held by local producers and distributors fell to 2.22 million metric tons as of June 30 from 2.24 million tons a year earlier, the ministry said in a report. Volume is expected to drop further to 2.09 million tons at the end of June 2015, the lowest level in three years, according to the report.

Rice Stable Supply Support Mechanism, a group of rice producers and distributors, bought 350,000 tons of the grain for sales to feed makers or processed-food producers, the ministry said. Consumption is forecast to drop 0.9 percent to 7.78 million tons for the year through June 30.

Wholesale prices of Japanese food rice averaged 14,328 yen ($139) a bag in June, down 12 percent from a year ago because of the glut, according to the ministry. One bag contains 60 kilograms.

Japan grows enough rice to feed itself as the government maintains high import tariffs and subsidizes production.

The government lowered its production target for food rice to 7.65 million tons this year, compared with last year’s harvest of 8.18 million tons, as it tries to reduce its surplus and support prices.