Japan’s languishing organic food market could get a major boost from a string of recent food scandals that have rocked the nation. The scandals include an outbreak of mad cow disease and allegations of government mishandling of the crisis; the discovery of traces of prohibited biotech corn in domestic food and animal feed; and a massive outbreak of food poisoning that affected 10,000 people and was traced to unsanitary practices at the country’s biggest dairy producer. In response, the Japanese are looking for food they can trust — and the organic industry smells cash. Since last fall, organic supermarkets and restaurants have sprung up like mushrooms, and ordinary stores have started stocking organic produce as well. Although Japan’s organic food sector was worth only $4-5 billion last year — less than 1 percent of the entire food sector — that number represents a four-fold increase in just five years.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.