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Asia300

Alibaba to sell high-grade Japanese rice to wealthy Chinese

E-commerce king to team up with Japan's Zen-Noh farm federation

A farmer harvests rice on an autumn day in Japan.

Japan's National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations and the Alibaba Group Holding will tie up to sell Japanese rice in China, sources said on Thursday.

The federation, better known as Zen-Noh, will sell the popular Koshihikari brand of rice via an Alibaba shopping portal, the sources said.

Japanese rice is becoming increasingly popular in China, an effect of the booming number of Chinese tourists visiting Japan.

Koshihikari is a luxury brand in China.

Alibaba will purchase rice harvested in Mie and Ishikawa prefectures through Zen-Noh. Initially, 4 tons of rice will be exported to China. The figure will be adjusted based on how well the rice sells, the sources said.

The price for a 2kg bag will be set at around 3,000 yen ($26). High-income Chinese are the target customers; they are expected to buy the rice for gift-giving and other purposes.

The high-grade Japanese rice is eight times more expensive than varieties commonly consumed in China. But the online price is still less than what it would be at department stores or other kinds of outlets.

China suspended rice imports from 10 prefectures, including Niigata and Miyagi, also famous rice-farming prefectures, after the March 2011 meltdowns of three nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.

Zen-Noh is expected to eventually sell Koshihikari from additional prefectures to Alibaba.

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