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Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate was 73% in 1965 falling to 37% in 1993. The rate held around 40% from 1998 to 2007 and slowly crept up to 41% in 2008 (compare this with 128% for the United States and 70% for Britain in 2003). At the national level, the goal is to return to 70% self-sufficiency. Add to this heightened consumer demand in Japan for ‘safer’ food and greater uniformity in appearance of the food and you have the start of a trend in food production.
Kicking this off are a number of small regional businesses which are building facilities to increase vegetable production. These companies include Murakami Farm Co, a producer of sprouting seeds such as radish and broccoli, Nippon Noen Co, a producer of salad vegetables and Fairy Angel, a producer of lettuce.
Their facilities are vegetable factories that are able to control the indoor environment and closely track nutrient amounts to grow vegetables without the use of fertilizer. Most of the effort so far has been made by smaller businesses that have developed expertise setting up 50 or so factories. Now larger companies are looking to vegetable factories to meet their consumer demand which will greater accelerate activity in this area.
Opportunities to supply Japan in an area of national priority exist for companies able to provide technological advances in vegetable factory control systems and nutrient products or expertise to increase the capability, capacity and efficiency of indoor vegetable production facilities in Japan.