This will be the largest increase in the last five years and will lead to more expensive Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) before the end of June 2017
Over the last 5 years the market price of Wasabia japonica has been slowly increasing, but most suppliers have chosen to accept the price rises as a cost of doing business.
This latest forecast rise, which is already happening*, is mainly due to labour and fuel cost rises brought about by Government regulations and uncertainty of supply. This coupled with the uncertainty of getting a product to sell even after growing the plant for 2 years or more due to weather, insects, diseases is causing less and less Wasabia japonica growers surviving long term.
The growth of Wasabia japonica is severely limited by geographical conditions if grown in the soil: it needs to be grown between 1300 - 2500 meters above sea level, the air temperature needs to lie between 8-20 degrees in the region, and on top of that Wasabia japonica is vulnerable to changing weather conditions, plant diseases and insect pests. Therefore, the supply of Wasabia japonica on the market is limited, although demand is large and growing. In comparison to the same period last year, the market price this year will go up by approximately 10%.
The majority of Wasabia japonica currently on the world market is grown in China in the ground which makes the supply very fragile and subject to vagaries of the natural world. As the environment continues to degrade and the climate changes then there will less and less Wasabia japonica available. When this happens then next year we may see the start of 20% per year increases in the market price.
* All Chinese suppliers have already increased their prices by 10%, and they expect to have another increase before the end of 2017.
International sales of Wasabi
There are big differences in consumer preferences for wasabi between Japan, Europe or USA. See the difference between wasabi and Wasabia japonica here.
In comparison to consumers in the Japanese market, consumers in Europe or the United States prefer wasabi flavours that have a slightly spicier taste but which are sold very cheap as they normally do not contain any Wasabia japonica, only mustard, horseradish and colouring
Future of Wasabi
I have an optimistic view on the international market for Wasabia japonica, because it is a typical ingredient for Japanese cuisine and is thus well-received on the international market.
The fly in the ointment in my view are the Government departments around the world that continually allow the mislabelling of products as wasabi, when they do not contain any Wasabia japonica. Until this changes then the consumer will never receive what they pay for unless they can purchase directly from the grower-processor.
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