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    China Business
     Apr 20, 2006
Rising Chinese chopstick prices help Japan firm

KANAZAWA, JAPAN - Japan's Nakamoto Seicho KK, a maker of disposable chopsticks, has announced plans to increase output and boost its product reserve on news of rising prices for competing Chinese-made products.

The company expects the price difference between domestically produced disposable chopsticks and Chinese-made ones, which account for 90% of the Japanese market, to shrink as prices for

Chinese products rise. Nakamoto will raise monthly production by just over 20% to 15 million pairs of chopsticks. It plans to create a reserve of 100 million pairs.

Since December 2005, Chinese manufacturers have raised prices of Japan-bound chopsticks made from white birch and similar woods by 30%, and they have said they plan to end exports in the future. This is due to factors including higher fuel and labor costs and efforts on the part of the Chinese government to protect its forestry resources.

Nakamoto produces chiefly high-end disposable chopsticks made of silver fir, grown in Hokkaido or Russia. Its products are priced about 15% higher than comparable Chinese-made chopsticks. On anticipation of higher prices for Chinese-made products, Nakamoto has seen an increase in inquiries from some restaurant chains, prompting the Kanazawa-based firm to decide to increase production.

In the 1990s, relatively inexpensive Chinese-made chopsticks came to dominate the Japanese market, and most domestic makers were forced to end production. Nakamoto is the only major domestic manufacturer remaining. Japan uses about 24 billion pairs of disposable chopsticks a year.

(Asia Pulse/Nikkei)



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