Sake Nation “Sake Rice Leftover due to the Coronavirus Pandemic: Part 3”

By Kosuke Kuji

Japanese sake sales suffered due to the impact from the novel coronavirus pandemic. The issue of sake rice inventory left over sparked a movement to encourage “support by consuming the sake rice.” I thought of participating in this movement myself. Speaking to rice farmers however, I learned inventory of rice is also high across the industry due to restaurants reducing their business hours or closing.
Although it’s easy to say, “please consume my sake rice,” the share of sales I attract will only impact the sales of rice, generating a loss for a different vendor.
How do we use the leftover sake rice?
“Sake rice is best used to produce sake.”
However, how do we resolve the issue of limited shelf life for sake products?
Our company decided to produce rubbing alcohol for disinfection early in the coronavirus pandemic. Initially, our plan was to only produce rubbing alcohol during the shortage, and to cease production once sufficient supplies of rubbing alcohol returned to the market. However, we met local handicapped children requiring constant care and their families in Iwate prefecture, where we learned rubbing alcohol was essential to approximately 200 residents in Iwate prefecture alone. We were inspired to continue local production of rubbing alcohol for local consumption indefinitely to ensure sufficient supply for these families.
However, sufficient supply of rubbing alcohol returned to the market by summer. Demand for rubbing alcohol produced by my sake brewery has declined, and will undoubtedly decline for other breweries as well. On the other hand, continued production of rubbing alcohol will require new equipment. I pondered what to do.

酒豪大陸 「コロナで余った酒米 その3」