Shops and restaurants in sushi-mad Hong Kong, one of Japan’s key food export markets, have been hit badly by the radiation scare with shoppers and diners deserting Japanese produce en masse. Well-heeled consumers in the city are normally willing to pay a premium for food imported from Japan, deeming it less likely to be affected by food safety scandals that have rocked mainland China, for example, in recent years.
But with the Chinese territory on Wednesday becoming the first Asian economy to slap an import ban on a variety of Japanese food after radiation was found in vegetables from Japan, consumers were shopping elsewhere. The ban applies to dairy products, fruit and vegetables from five prefectures near the Fukushima No 1. nuclear plant, which was hit by a powerful quake and tsunami on March 11, followed by a series of explosions and fires.
Supermarkets that are usually popular with Western and Japanese expatriates as well as wealthier local Chinese consumers were markedly less busy Thursday. Japanese chains APITA and Jusco, as well as Japanese restaurants in the city were all quiet, despite hefty discounts on fruits and vegetables imported before the ban came into effect, with shoppers showing little interest.