The state will ‘definitely feel it’ from strong yen and pricey fuel
WAILUKU » Food prices in Hawaii are expected to rise through this year, including rice whether it is white, brown or snapping, crackling and popping in cereals.
"It's going up, and the rice supply is getting tight for the rest of the year until the new crop in the U.S.," said Betty Matsumoto, an official with Hinode, a rice distributor.
Matsumoto said rice is selling retail for about $7.99 for a 20-pound bag and is expected to go up to about $10 by the end of the year.
Roy Ishihara, vice president of operations for Marukai Corp., said prices of Japan's specialty food items have gone up just based on the rising value of the Japanese yen.
Ishihara said the U.S. dollar was equivalent to 115 yen last year and is now equal to about 100 yen.
He said the economy is soft and that people are cautious about their spending.
Economist Leroy Laney, a consultant with First Hawaiian Bank, said food in Hawaii already is expensive and that the rising cost of fuel will affect imports.
"We'll definitely feel it. Our inflation is already higher than the national average," he said.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii Foodbank's supply is the lowest it has been in about five to six years, spokeswoman Lori Kaya said.
Kaya said the food bank had about 347,000 pounds of emergency food, provisions that will last about eight to 10 days.
"Normally, we like to keep a 30-day supply. It's not urgent. We are running low," she said.
Kaya said the food bank is asking people to give generously Saturday during its collection drive from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 10 Oahu locations.