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Rice Stockpiles in Japan Reach 11-Year High on Price Surge

July 26 (Bloomberg) -- Rice stockpiles in Japan swelled 26 percent to the highest level in 11 years at the end of June as higher prices weakened demand from local food industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said today.

Inventories of Japanese food rice held by local producers and distributors increased to 2.26 million metric tons as of June 30 from 1.80 million tons a year earlier, the ministry said in a report. Volume is expected to increase further to 2.31 million tons at the end of June 2014, the highest level since at least 1999, according to the report.

Wholesale prices of Japanese food rice averaged 16,442 yen ($167) a bag in May, 6.7 percent higher than a year ago, according to the ministry. One bag contains 60 kilograms.

Japan, the world’s largest corn importer, grows enough rice to feed itself as the government maintains high tariffs on imports and pays subsidies to growers.

The government set its production target for food rice at 7.91 million tons this year, down 0.3 percent from 2012, as it attempts to balance output with domestic demand.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aya Takada in Tokyo at atakada2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jarrett Banks at jbanks15@bloomberg.net

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