Japan's Yomiuri Newspaper recently reported [ja] that the country's traditional tofu makers who produce and sell tofu in their own shops are on the verge of extinction. According to the article, in the last ten years, 5,000 tofu makers have closed down their businesses.
Tofu industry journal Toyoshimpo [ja] detailed that the number of tofu makers are decreasing year after year, and now there are fewer than 10,000 tofu sellers in Japan.
Times are getting tougher for these independent tofu providers due to a hike in the cost of soy beans. Supermarkets and grocery stores are demanding lower prices from tofu makers, and independent tofu makers that sell tofu have to compete with the price of cheap mass‐produced tofu, amid Japan's economic stagflation.
The news reverberated on Twitter, where users recalled the tofu makers in their own communities and commented on the state of the industry.
Journalist Shoko Egawa wrote anxiously in response to the news report:
「豆腐の安売りが激しくなっており、どこも経営が苦しい。適正な価格でスーパーに卸すなど販売価格を見直さないと、豆腐屋はいずれなくなってしまう」と。それは困る！ →豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」（読売新聞） http://t.co/QPt3jrhYLq
— Shoko Egawa (@amneris84) November 2, 2013
The report says “The price competition of tofu is increasing, and tofu makers are having a difficult time.If tofu makers don't review the price or start selling their tofu to supermarkets, they will disappear.” Now that is a problem! ―Tofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―
Twitter user Kiwi Shiroyama expressed feelings of powerlessness, and commented in grief that despite her personal effort to support the community tofu maker by intentionally avoiding mega-stores that sell tofu, it didn't make a difference:
大手スーパーに、食の文化も安全も乗っ取られてはいけない・・と、できるだけ近所のお店で買い物をするようにしている。 でも、町の美味しいお豆腐屋さんもなくなってしまった。 ■豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」 http://t.co/tNbtTyLy4o …
— 城山キーウィ (@ShiroPineapple) November 2, 2013
I have always made the effort to visit local stores instead of going to a big supermarket, yet my favorite tofu seller in the community closed up shop. ―TTofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―
Hiroko Inagaki recommended that people take a hard look at the consequences of cheap tofu prices:
他生産品が値上げするなか低価格のままは確かに歪んでる。無理な低価格は食の安全を脅かすことにも繋がりかねない。安いことは喜ばしいけど、我々も安さの裏側をもっと見なくちゃ。 豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」（読売新聞） http://t.co/cjmF190Rv6— hiroko Inagaki (@hiroko_Inagaki) November 2, 2013
It is certainly strange to have tofu stuck at low price while other products's prices are rising. Making the price unreasonably low could lead to endanger food safety. It's always delightful to see things at lower prices, but we have to be able to look deeper at the price tag and see what lies behind.―Tofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―
Twitter user Don Uworry asked tofu makers to raise their prices:
豆腐屋さん、もう安売り競争はやめて、値段が高くて、美味しくて安全な国産大豆の豆腐と豆乳を作ってよ。私、毎日食べるから。ー＞ 豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」（読売新聞） – Y!ニュース http://t.co/2sGpLsALVJ
— どん・うをーりー (@kawalle) November 2, 2013
Dear tofu makers, please stop competing with the prices and start making delicious, safe tofu and soy milk made of soybeans grown in Japan with higher prices. I'll have it every day. ―Tofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―
Atsuko Momoi wished the best for her favorite tofu maker:
大好きな行きつけの豆腐やさん、いつまでも続けていてほしいな。がんばってほしい。だって、あの豆腐屋さんの豆腐は、美味しいし、心がある。 豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」（読売新聞） – Y!ニュース http://t.co/uFBrCSRVSM
— 桃井温子 (@vegetable_love) November 2, 2013
I hope my favorite tofu maker stays in business forever. I'm rooting for them because their tofu is good and has soul. ―Tofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―
Chieda Aritake explained a personal connection to the dire news about tofu makers:
豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」（読売新聞） – Y!ニュース http://t.co/jPIAfQJCo0 うちも、祖母がなくなったと同時に廃業しましたからね…。（大体スーパーの半値）
— 千枝有竹 (@Chieda_Aritake) November 2, 2013
My family used to be tofu maker, but closed right after my grandmother died. ―Tofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―
User ASTORIA_11105 advised consumers to take their fair share of the blame for situation that tough tofu makers find themselves in:
豆腐店、続々廃業「３６５日働いても利益ない」 http://t.co/7mWICZjz1z デフレのせいにして適切な御代を払おうとしない世の認識がそもそも間違っている。豆腐造りを、キチンと利益が取れる事業にしておかないと、やがてそのツケは消費者に回ってくることに気付くべき。
— ASTORIA_11105 (@ASTORIA11105) November 2, 2013
I think the public has been wrong because they have blamed the bad economy on deflation and neglected paying the proper price. Consumers need to realize that if they don't allow tofu makers to profit from what they do, it is going to come back to haunt consumers. ―Tofu makers closing down businesses, say there's no profit despite being open 365 days―