Report: Israel Fears Sushi Shortage After Japan Quake


sushiMeirav Crystal reports: While Japan continues to deal with the aftermath of last Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, and has yet to recover from one of the greatest disasters in its history, Israelis fear a shortage in the ingredients of one of their favorite dishes: Sushi.

Many of sushi’s basic components come from Japan or are imported through the battered countries. Will Israelis soon suffer from a shortage of the beloved rolls’ necessary ingredients?

“There may be a shortage of sushi components, but we are still studying the situation,” says Dudi Afriat of the Rakuto Kasei company, which imports the Kikkoman soy sauce, as well as seaweeds, wasabi, rice and other necessary ingredients for sushi rolls.

Rakuto Kasei is the main supplier of raw materials for sushi to all restaurants in Israel, and markets products to supermarkets as well.

“We’ll be wiser once the situation in Japan stabilizes and the reconstruction begins,” he explains. “I assume we’ll know if there is going to be a shortage in the coming week. The main fear is of a shortage of the Kikkoman soy sauce. One Kikkoman factory in Japan was damaged and there have been delays in the supply, but we hope it won’t stop the regular chain of supply.”

Kikkoman has five factories around the world – in the United States, Hong Kong, Holland, Singapore and Japan. “Most of the containers arrive in Israel from the US, but the entire management is in Japan,” Afriat explains.

“At the moment, it’s very difficult communicating with them. There are a lot of disruptions. Yesterday I spoke with our contact in Japan, and he said it took him 10 hours to get to the office from home.

“So at the moment the situation is unclear, and it all depends on the Japanese. I trust them, because they love the soy sauce more than we do. My only fear is that they’ll have to import Kikkoman from the US, and that will affect the imports to Israel.”

Rice shortage not expected

A possible shortage of Kikkoman would be felt in Israel. “About 85% of the soy sauce used in Israel is Kikkoman. This is a very unusual figure in the world,” Afriat says. “Israeli chefs feel very connected to this product. After the tsunami I received phone calls from hysterical people fearing a shortage of Kikkoman.”

Other products which may be affected due to import problems or damaged factories are miso (traditional Japanese seasoning), pickled Japanese pumpkin and cabbage, and certain types of seaweed. A shortage may also be felt in wasabi – Japanese horseradish.

One thing is certain: A rice shortage is not anticipated, as most of the rice used to make sushi comes from California.

Fortunately, many Japanese products are produced in US factories and exported to Israel from there. Therefore, the supply of most types of seaweeds, ginger, Sake and rice vinegar is not expected to be affected.

Sushi rolling mats and other bamboo products, like chopsticks, come from China. The panko and tempura come from South Korea, and black sesame originates in Israel or Thailand.

Tel Aviv one of biggest sushi consumers

Israelis love sushi, and a shortage of some of its ingredients may have an effect on many restaurants. “The Japanese food unit in Israel has grown by some 800% in the past five or six years,” says Afriat. “Five years ago, there were up to 20 sushi restaurants in Tel Aviv. Today there are more than 130. A survey we conducted recently revealed that sushi is the No. 2 take away food in Israel.”

“Kikkoman, the world’s biggest commercial brand, has an amazing infiltration level. It can be found in one-third of Israeli households, and it’s clearly a Japanese product. Surprisingly, we bring real naturally fermented soy sauce, which costs much more than other types of soy available in stores, and Israelis still appreciate and purchase it.

“We import 900 kilograms (1,984pounds) of Kikkoman bottles a year, and 54 tons of rice for sushi a month. It’s an amazing amount. Tel Aviv is the fifth city in the world in the consumption of sushi per capita, and fourth in the world in the number of sushi restaurants per capita.

“Last year, Kikkoman’s senior management arrived in Israel to give us the award for the company’s best global marketer, because we reached a 66% rise in sales between 2008 and 2009.

“Business with Japan is very tight. I have been working with Japanese people for six years now and we feel very connected to them. We feel their pain.”

{Ynet/ Newscenter}


  1. Oh, I really feel bad for the Israelis now. Forget Japan, the real problem is a lack of Sushi. What is wrong with people? Can’t they be grateful with what they have?

  2. Oy! i cant sleep no Shushi Oy! i cant eat
    Oy! a bunch of spoiled kids
    Wake Up and we feel their pain ..Baloney Oh i mean Shushi

  3. Um, guys, was this article Purim-shpiel? If so, say so, and quickly.

    It’s *not*, repeat *not* a kiddush Hashem to talk about Israel’s sushi situation when 140,000 people are stuck indoors to avoid radiation poisoning and three nuclear reactors have melted down.

    Thank you.

  4. What an awful juxtaposition!! How can one compare worrying about sushi at the same time as reading about a disaster of epic proportions???

  5. Tens of thousands dead from the quake and tsunami, millions at risk of death and disease from nuclear radiation, no food and no water – and they worry about sushi, rice and soy sauce. Unbelievable!

  6. the headline Report: Israel Fears Sushi Shortage After Japan Quake is a blatant display of insensitivity. Whether or not there will be a shortage of this ‘delicacy’ is irrelevent.. the point is how does one say the words ‘sushi’ and ‘quake’ in the same sentence???

  7. Over 10,000 people have been killed, 140,00 people forced to remain indoors because of the nuclear meltdown and fear of radiation and people fear sushi shortage?

  8. Can someone explain this to me please? Side by side, we have an article describing the heroic statement of a 12 year old girl whose family was just brutally murdered by cold blooded terrorists. We have many other articles describing the unimaginable tragedy in Japan and continuing fallout. And the to increase the concerns of growing global uncertainty we have an article detailing a possible sushi shortage? Hu? Where have I gone wrong that my stomach does not yet rule my head and heart?

  9. Tens of thousands of people are dead, injured, missing and homeless, and all you can think about is Sushi??! How heartless can you be?

  10. I thought this headline to be very insensitive. Probably tens of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands homeless and Israel fears a Sushi shortage???

  11. How can you write “Isrealis fear sushi shortage” right after an article about the Fogels Hy”d? 5 neshomos were brutally taken and anyone cares about sushi???!!!!

  12. Concerns about shortages of a non-essential food item trivializes the terrible loss of life, injuries, and loss of property being experienced in Japan. Anyone who has such concerns should please keep them to himself.

  13. is this all they are worried about, i think not!! i think they are much more worried about Japan self destructing……

  14. I posted this as a joke a few days back and was reprimanded. I apologized for offending anyone – but now I’ve been VINDICATED! 🙂

  15. The lesson we learn from all of this, not that we need to repent, but we will be missing our Sushi.
    Are we waiting for more tragedies and realize that real change is required.

  16. I don’t understand how you could print such a stupid article and one that is in such poor taste.

    No wonder Eretz Yisroel is in such a terrible matzav when this is what they worry about!

    We have to be mispallel for klal Yisroel to do emeste teshuva.

  17. It would be nice if they named names because I personally was not the least bit worried that my tummy would suffer after this earthquake and any person who really voices such a concern is like an owl that flys into a Nazi Death Camp, looks around and then leaves to look for real worm instead of the worms it might find in say Auschwitz. That is just horrible that any Jew could even think to write such an article. but perhaps they could have just informed us that Sushi supplies would be restricted and that it would be a change from the earthquake. Not that the supposed entire jewish nation has no consciousness and just wants yellow fin tuna and salmon. Thanks.