The phenomenon that the size of Bentos sold in convenience stores in Japan gets smaller every year has been often talked about by netizens but recently, as long as I checked the size of the Bento box in a convenience store, it seems to stop getting the size of the Bento box smaller intentionally than it used to do before.
However, although the apparent size of the Bento box is the same as before, the major convenience stores try to do a dirty trick like raising the bottom of the Bento box in order to reduce substantial quantity of the contents.
Moreover, when it comes to sandwiches, they try to reduce the cost by reducing the inside ingredients covered with a slice of bread, where we can’t see as well as the Bento box trick.
In recent years, all the prices stay the same but the amount of content is steadily decreasing one after another in the food industry and snack related products like potato chips and chocolates are really remarkable in this way.
One of the reasons of this phenomenon is the rising the costs of raw materials and labors. If these costs rise, retail stores have no choice but obviously raise the price of the products but in Japan, if the food producers simply raise the price, consumers will refrain from buying the products.
Due to the experience of deflation for over 30 years in Japan, people have been really sensitive about price increase by even one yen.
For that reason, convenience stores and food companies somehow suppress price increase reluctantly by reducing the quantity of the products.
As long as Japanese people keep having deflation mindset from now on, it is likely that there will come a time when Japanese people need to accept quality deterioration because handling this cost problem by reducing quantity will obviously get stuck in the future, and retailers and food companies are going to have to start taking drastic measures in quality of the products eventually.
On the other hand, America, which is one of the countries that have inflation, rose the cost of row materials and labors as well but in contrast to Japan, commodity prices also raised at the same time and American people accept that situation. Especially, price increase in New York is remarkable and it is often the case that a food item that costs you normally less than 10 dollars in Japan will cost you 20 dollars in New York City.
I can understand the feeling that you don’t want to pay more than 2,000 yen for poor dishes in a restaurant. However, the country that doesn’t accept inflation will get deserted someday because if food companies and retailers always do such a dirty trick like raising the bottom of the Bento box and reducing the inside ingredients covered with a slice of bread, Japanese nation’s salary stays low level and quality of products will go worse and worse.
The reason that Japan almost declines from the position of an advanced country and is being driven into a corner by great growth momentum of developing countries is that obviously Japanese nations have allergies against price increase.
If there is a chance that Japan can be resurrected from economic stagnation from now on, firstly Japan needs to create a mood and a culture that people can naturally accept price increase by inflation.