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Food & Beverage

Japan's alternative food market hit by high soybean prices

But restaurants, retailers, add plant-based meat options amid growing awareness

Increasing demand for soybeans in China is helping to drive up global prices for the key ingredient in alternative meats.   © Getty Images

TOKYO -- Japanese restaurants and retailers are adding plant-based meat substitutes to their offerings, hoping to tap growing consumer interest in healthy and sustainable food even as prices for soybeans -- a key ingredient -- rise.

The international market price for soybean futures is at around $14 to $15 per bushel -- 1.5 times higher than in 2020 due to increasing demand in China and supply disruptions after Russia invaded Ukraine. Japan relies on imports for 93% of its soybean needs, according to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data for 2021.

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