Frozen food named 'dish of the year' in Japan

A Japanese restaurant guide has named frozen food Japan's "dish of the year."

According to the Gurunavi Research Institute, which runs a search engine for restaurants in Japan, the company chose "frozen gourmet" to represent 2022 as they felt it "reflects and symbolizes the Japanese social climate this year."

Previous winners include non-alcoholic beverages (2021), tapioca boba (2019) and mackerel (2018).

The institute attributed its selection to changes made in food services due to COVID-19.

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More restaurants in Japan have begun flash-freezing their dishes to meet increased demand for takeout orders, which Gurunavi named their dish of the year for 2020, also citing consumers' dining at home during the pandemic.

Product diversity of frozen foods has increased in the country as well, with stores like Lawson expanding their frozen food sections, vending machines offering flash-frozen food and grocery store chains like Aeon opening locations that specialize in frozen selections.

Gurunavi also cited a growing interest in frozen ingredients to save time and limit food waste, predicting that "it will become an even more indispensable presence in Japanese food culture in the future."

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"Lately, more and more Japanese woman are working outside the home," says Yoshiko Miura, a consumer consultant for the Japan Frozen Food Association, in a July interview with NHK. "But they also tend to prepare food for their family. Their time is very limited. Also, Japan's population is aging, and a great number of people live alone. Assembling ingredients and preparing and cooking them takes time and effort. Frozen food helps address that problem."

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