How inflation in the United States is affecting a favorite snack in Japan


One of the most popular and recognizable packaged snacks in Japan, Umaibo translates to “delicious stick” and is a choice among school-aged children in the country, who indulge in flavors like chicken curry and the salami and revel in the iconic, brightly colored foil wrapper featuring the Umaemon cat mascot. First marketed in 1979, the Guardian reports that Umaibo has always sold for just 10 Japanese yen, or about nine cents. But in April, the snack will see its first-ever price hike, to ¥12, a rise that the manufacturer, Yaokin, attributes to the rising price of imported American corn, the main ingredient in Umaibo.

Although the price of U.S. corn tends to fluctuate, last year it rose nearly 35%, according to AgWeb. Yaokin says these price increases have forced a hand on the price of Umaibo – and people across Japan are taking notice. The Guardian shared a tweet from Japanese rock musician Atsushi Osawa, “We are seeing a turning point in history. The price has started to diverge from the lyrics.” Osawa band Uchikubi Gokumon Doukoukai famously “called the snack and its low price in a 2010 song.”

“There’s nothing we can do,” Takeshi Nemoto, a snack shopper in Tokyo, told the Guardian. “From the manufacturer’s point of view, they can only stay profitable if they raise the price.”


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