While in Qingdao the other day, I went out for a sushi dinner with co-blogger Steve Dickinson and a long time Japanese fishing industry client who happened to be in Qingdao on business.
Steve had been to this same restaurant a few months earlier and raved about the food. The first few dishes were excellent, but the sushi platter contained tuna that looked and tasted old and awful. Steve informed our waiter of this he merely shrugged. That got the three of us talking about China food quality, and at that point, Steve (who can speak and read Japanese) and the client told me that the topic of the day in Japanese magazines is “poisoned food” coming in from China. They both said that many of these articles accuse the Chinese of deliberately poisoning food going to Japan. I failed to ask if this “deliberate” poisoning was being done to save money and increase profits, or to get at the Japanese. They both said Japan was making every effort to cease buying any food from China.
The AP is just out with a story saying food sales from China to Japan fell 30 percent in February and from Shandong Province the fall was an even steeper 60 percent. These figures are in comparison to February, 2007. Based on my dinnertime conversation, it would not surprise me if sales have fallen even further since February.
Will China’s food sales to Japan recover or will this plunge spread to Korea and beyond? In other words, is this just a Japanese thing? Does China’s increasing carelessness with food portend bad things in terms of Chinese product manufacturing and quality control?