Sake Nation “Sake Rice Left-over due to the Coronavirus Pandemic: Part I”

By Kosuke Kuji

The novel coronavirus destroyed Japan’s economy from the bottom up.
In Japan, where the lockdown cannot be enforced, citizens voluntarily stay at home to comply with the “self-restraint request” made by the government to the public to overcome the pandemic. However, the fourth wave hit just before the Tokyo Olympics started, met with a state of emergency declared going into the Olympics. As the self-restraint request and strict business suspension measures continue to be enforced long-term, alcoholic beverages are no longer sold in Japan.
Although alcohol not sold in restaurants can still be consumed at home, the volume of sake consumed in restaurants is significantly higher. A bottle of expensive sake may not be entirely consumed at home, while a cup of the same sake can be enjoyed at a reasonable price in a restaurant.
Few high-end sake is produced from general rice, as sake rice – specialized rice suitable for brewing sake - is more commonly used.
Such specialize sake rice cannot be cultivated by anyone, but essentially cultivated by farmers through contract farming.
As Japanese sake cannot be sold in restaurants, sake rice was also impacted.
As a rule, sake rice cannot be consumed. Sake rice is not flavorful if consumed, and sake rice purchased for processing cannot be sold for consumption.
However, due to the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, sake cannot be sold. Since sake cannot be sold, sake production for the following year will result in a significant volume in storage. Therefore, this portion of sake (to result in storage) must be subtracted from the sake volume to be produced.
The brewery that produces sake can apply such control. However, the original sake ingredient - sake rice – was arranged for “contract farming” before the coronavirus spread. We cannot break the contract for it would be unethical.
This means we must subtract the portion of sake rice for the sake (that will end up in storage) that does not need to be produced.

酒豪大陸「コロナで余った酒米 その1」