Japan may face green tea shortage due to radiation leakes from Fukushima plant

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TOKYO: Japan may face a shortage of green tea as radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station tainted leaves, spurring the government to restrict shipments from four prefectures.

The government decided on Thursday to curb shipments of dried tea leaves containing more than 500 becquerel per kg of radioactive cesium and ordered a halt in shipments from the eastern prefectures of Ibaraki, Chiba, Kanagawa and Tochigi where tainted produce was detected.

Japan's tea production, including fresh and dried leaves, was worth 102.1 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in 2009, according to the agriculture ministry.

The decision came after Shizuoka prefecture, Japan's largest growing region representing about 40% of total output, declared its green tea was safe.

Governor Heita Kawakatsu said last month tests on fresh leaves and drinks showed they contained cesium amounts well below the government levels.

Still, cesium levels in dried leaves could be about five times higher than fresh leaves, said Yasuo Sasaki , senior press counselor at the Ministry of Agriculture , Forestry and Fisheries.

"The new regulation may spur shipment restrictions from Shizuoka prefecture, slashing supplies and boosting prices of green teas," Sasaki said on Friday in a telephone interview. "Higher prices could spur consumers to shift from green tea to cheaper alternatives such as barley tea or oolong tea."
Japan may face green tea shortage due to radiation leakes from Fukushima plant - The Economic Times
 


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