Every year Gurunavi Research Institute awards “Dish of the Year” award. The award is designed to draw attention to current food trends in Japan.
In previous years, the winners were “plant-based products”; and «Chinese cooking». But today's selection showed once again how much the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Japanese people and their eating habits.
The institute believes that the pandemic has led to the fact that more and more restaurants are freezing their dishes, mostly takeaway. Quick freezing techniques have allowed chefs to preserve the integrity of their meals, and some will even try freezing sushi.
According to the Japanese Ministry of the Interior, the average amount of money Japanese households spend on frozen food increased from 2019 to 2021 by 20 percent.
One of the largest grocery chains in the country, Aeon, opened a specialized supermarket with the prefix Frozen in Chiba Prefecture in August. It sells over 1,500 frozen foods in 420 square meters.
Lawson — a large chain of convenience stores — expanded the frozen food section of its 5,000 retail stores. Among the frozen foods for sale are desserts and even sashimi.
Traditionally, Japanese families bought fresh vegetables and other ingredients daily from regular grocery stores. Mothers and wives prepared bento boxes in the morning for their husbands and children.
But the pandemic and changing gender roles have changed this way of life.
Recently, more and more Japanese women are working outside the home . They still cook meals for their family, but they have less time.
Experts highlight another factor. Japan's population is aging and a large number of people live alone. Purchasing fresh food, preparing and preparing it takes time and effort. Frozen foods help solve this problem.