TOKYO, JAPAN — High corn and sorghum prices have driven demand for rice in Japan’s compound feed mix, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA projects 2020-21 rice consumption in Japan to increase slightly to 8.3 million tonnes as feed consumption is expected to more than offset declines in table rice consumption.

“Rice used in compound feed production increased 20% for the first eight months of 2020-21,” the report said. “FAS Tokyo expects rice for feed consumption to increase by approximately 200,000 tonnes to 1.25 million tonnes in 2020-21 and by another 150,000 tonnes to 1.4 million tonnes in 2021-22.”

The report noted that the downward trend of table rice consumption in Japan accelerated amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries estimates annual per capita consumption decreased by 2.5 kilograms to 50.7 kilograms, or 4.7%, in 2020, marking the largest decline in the last decade.

“The drop is attributable to decreased consumption in the foodservice, tourism, events, and banquet sectors and the inability of increased household consumption to offset the declines,” the USDA said. “High stocks and bearish demand suppressed table rice prices over the last 18 months.”

The USDA estimates marketing year 2021-22 rice acres will continue to decline and projects the harvested area to be 1.526 million hectares, with 7.56 million tonnes of total production.