Okinawa milk production decreasing
Production of raw milk on Okinawa is decreasing because the number of dairy farmers keeping milk cows is diminishing. According to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the total milk production in Okinawa from March to July this year decreased 3.4% from the same period last year.
Because raw milk is in short supply, main dairies in Okinawa have had to restrict their production of milk products leading to shortages at some retail stores. The dairies are concerned that higher prices may reduce milk’s popularity. They are examining possibilities to import milk from the Japanese main land, and they are also asking the Federation of Dairy Cooperative Association of Okinawa to support stable supply of raw milk.
Okinawa Morinaga Milk Industry has slashed its milk production by 5-6% compared to last year because of the shortage of raw milk. Okinawa Meiji Milk Products also cannot produce enough milk to meet the demand from all retail stores. Miyahira Dairy Cooperation has suspended some of their product lines.
A representative of the industry says that they are considering to import raw milk from Kyushu, because they do not want to give trouble to retail shops.
According to representatives at supermarkets on Okinawa, Okinawan milk products usually run out of stock in the evening hours, and they need to import milk products from Japan, meaning they can’t discount them.
Milk producers are also concerned about rising prices of the products. One of the representatives says that the price of milk production has been rising for the past 10 years, which may cause milk to become less popular. He hopes that the government would support dairy farmers to ensure stable supply.
The number of milk cows in Okinawa was 4,375 in 2015, which is 444 less than the year before. The number of milk farms is 79, which is four less than last year. Both figures are the smallest in 30 years.
According to Okinawa Prefecture Livestock Division, this is because of decreasing demand for milk products nationwide, as well as the steep rise in the price of feed grains. Adding to the problem, some dairy farmers have turned to raising beef cattle because the price of beef and veal has been rising. A representative of the Livestock Division says that the fundamental solution is to increase the number of milk cows, and they want to stop the decrease by cooperating with the Association.