Vegetable prices are rising rapidly in Japan after a deadly heatwave saw highs of more than 40C.
Record-breaking temperatures triggered a spike in the cost of some foods with increases of up to 65 per cent.
An agriculture ministry official in Tokyo warned about “pretty severe price moves” for vegetables if predictions of more weeks of hot weather held up, resulting in less rain than usual.
“It’s up to the weather how prices will move from here,” the official said. “But the Japan Meteorological Agency has predicted it will remain hot for a few more weeks, and that we will have less rain than the average.”
The most recent data showed the wholesale price of cabbage was 129 yen (88p) per kg, an increase of 65 per cent over the average late-July price of the past five years.
Temperatures in Japan’s western cities of Yamaguchi and Akiotacho reached record highs of 38.8C and 38.6C, respectively, on Wednesday afternoon.
On Monday, the city of Kumagaya reported a temperature of 41.1C, the highest ever recorded in Japan.
As many as 65 people died in the week to 22 July, up from 12 the previous week, while a prisoner in his forties died of heat stroke in Miyoshi during what medical experts called an “unprecedented” heat wave.
On the Tokyo stock market, shares in companies expected to benefit from a hot summer, such as ice-cream makers, have risen in recent trading.
Shares in Imuraya Group, whose subsidiary sells popular vanilla and red-bean ice cream, were up nearly 10 per cent on the month, while Ishigaki Foods, which sells barley tea, surged 50 per cent over the same period.
In neighbouring South Korea, the unremitting heat has killed at least 14 people this year, the Korea Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention said.
The heatwave was at the level of a “special disaster”, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday, as electricity use surged and vegetable prices rose.