According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the domestic food self-sufficiency rate has been on a long-term downward trend due to a decrease in consumption of rice, which has a high self-sufficiency rate, and an increase in consumption of livestock products and oils and fats, which depend on overseas sources for feed and raw materials. The food self-sufficiency ratio on a calorie basis in FY2019 was 38%, which is very low compared to other developed countries. Relying on imports for the remaining 62% means that there is a risk that international prices will skyrocket if the situation at import partners becomes unstable or if natural disasters make supply difficult. In the worst case scenario, the country could encounter famine. Against this backdrop, local production for local consumption is attracting increasing attention.

Local production for local consumption refers to efforts to consume agricultural and marine products produced in domestic regions within the region where they were produced. In addition to improving food self-sufficiency, it also leads to the creation of a sixth industry through direct sales outlets and processing efforts. Restaurants can serve freshly prepared food by using locally grown vegetables. According to a 2020 survey by Nikko Company, a western tableware manufacturer, more than half of the respondents to a questionnaire asking if they are aware of the place of origin and safety of ingredients also answered “yes,” indicating that consumers are highly aware of local production for local consumption. In this issue, we would like to introduce some of the advantages and disadvantages of local production for local consumption that restaurants should be aware of.

Advantages – 1. Reduction of CO2 emissions in transportation

If the food is from nearby areas, CO2 emissions during transportation are reduced and the environmental impact is lessened. In recent years, carbon neutralization has become an issue in various fields as a means of solving the problem of climate change. In food products as well, carbon labels that indicate the CO2 emissions associated with production on the package are increasingly being introduced, and it can be said that there is growing interest in this area. Companies such as the Carbon Trust in the U.K. were early adopters of carbon labels on food and beverage products. In addition, if foodstuffs are served fresh, the electrical energy required to maintain quality over a long period of time, such as refrigeration and freezing, can be reduced.

Advantage-2. Reduction of food loss

It is easier to build a relationship of trust if you meet directly with producers on a regular basis. It is said that 30-40% of the total vegetable production is out-of-spec vegetables, such as those that do not look good or are uneven, but if products are produced with the producer’s face visible, there is less resistance to out-of-spec products and people can eat them with peace of mind. In addition, by communicating needs directly to producers, efficient production and quality improvement become possible, leading to a fundamental reduction in food loss.

Advantage-3. Improved customer satisfaction through cost reduction

By using local agricultural and marine products, transportation costs, known as food mileage, can be cut. Reducing electrical energy and food loss also affects the overall cost of the store, which can be used to improve store satisfaction by allocating the cost to services and equipment. By achieving local production for local consumption, money circulates within the community, contributing greatly to the protection of farmers and the local economy.

Advantage – 4. Opportunity to connect with the community

Direct involvement with the producer increases interest in the ingredients and allows the producer to communicate specific requests for quality improvement. In addition, an increasing number of restaurants nowadays have their own farms. The particulars, etc. that can be achieved because they actually grow their own vegetables can be a selling point for the restaurant and lead to improved communication with customers. By introducing composting to their own farms, they can even learn about the food cycle while reducing food loss.

Disadvantage-1. Difficulty in stable supply

There are some disadvantages to sticking to local products, such as not being able to obtain the ingredients one wants or having prices rise due to weather and other factors. However, if you have regular communication with the producer, he or she may be able to suggest alternatives. For this reason, it is important to build a relationship of trust. Also, if the restaurant’s image as a place of local production for local consumption has taken root among customers, they may be more tolerant of changes in the menu. It is precisely because it is difficult to provide a stable supply that the chef’s creativity comes into play.

Disadvantage-2. Differences by region

In some areas, climate and topography limit the produce that can be produced. In such areas, it is very difficult to provide a complete assortment of products using only strictly local produce. In this case, local production for local consumption should not only be considered in terms of local produce and local range, but also in a broader sense, such as prioritizing the use of domestically produced products. It would be good to incorporate the central wholesale market as well as direct dealings with small-scale farmers.

Editor’s Note

There are many advantages to local production for local consumption, such as the use of safe and secure ingredients as a selling point for the restaurant, or the ability to showcase the special characteristics of the local area. There are apps that connect producers and restaurants, so it is recommended to find local producers and try local production for local consumption.

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[Reference Site] What is local production for local consumption|Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan
[Reference Site] About food self-sufficiency and food self-sufficiency|Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan
[Reference Site] “Fremal,” a purchasing application that directly connects producers and chefs.

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