A report from the Japan Canners' Association puts last year's output of canned and bottled goods at 4,551,015 tonnes, down 6.4 per cent from year 2000. In particular, canned production - excluding drinks - was down 14.8 per cent from 2000 at 339,977 tonnes.
Badly hit was the production of canned fish products which only managed to reach 136,211 tonnes last year, a 16.5 per cent decrease from 2000.
The Japanese food industry has been badly hit in recent years by the combination of a sluggish economy, which has seen unemployment reach record highs, and a series of major food scandals.
The discovery of BSE has had a big impact on the sale of locally produced meats, whereas one of the country's largest dairy producers, Snow Brand, was hit by a food poisoning scare over its powdered milk. Snow Brand is now in the process of being amalgamated with two other leading Japanese dairy co-operatives.
However, there is a hope that there could be a turn around in store for the beverage and food packaging sector, as Japan's Chain Store Association has reported a rare upturn. According to figures it published for the month of May, sales of food and beverage were 1.5 per cent higher than the same period last year.