We use “MOTTAINAI” to mean that the value of an object is not fully utilized and is wasted.

It has the same meaning as the English word “wasteful,” but it also implies respect and love for nature and things.
It is a word and value that is gradually spreading abroad as “MOTTAINAI”.

In this article, I will tell you about “MOTTAINAI” through food self-sufficiency and food loss.

Japan’s food self-sufficiency

The food self-sufficiency rate is an indicator that shows the ratio of domestic production to food supply.

In Japan, it is a measure of

  • Heat supply (calorie) based
  • Based on production value

We have calculated the food self-sufficiency rate in the above two ways,We usually use “Heat supply (calorie) based” food self-sufficiency.

In Japan, we have eaten mainly rice as a staple food, as well as vegetables and seafood.
There is a food culture that has eaten meat on special occasions.
Therefore, the production of meat and dairy products, such as beef and butter, is low and relies on imports, so the food self-sufficiency rate in terms of calories supplied is low.

The changes in food self-sufficiency rate since 1965 are as follows.

Japan's food self-sufficiency
Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, “Total Food Self-sufficiency Ratio (calorie and production value)”.

Every year the numbers are going down.

However, food loss also needs to be considered.

Food Loss in Japan

Food loss is food that is discarded when it is still edible.

In Japan, 25,500,000 tons of food and other waste are generated annually.
Of this amount, 6,120,000 tons of food products are discarded, or so-called “Food loss”, which is still edible.


This is equivalent to 1.6 times the amount of global food aid (3,900,000 tons per year in 2018) for the world’s hungry people.

Doesn’t that sound like a “MOTTAINAI”?

For “food loss,” one of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 is to reduce retail and consumption losses by 2030 It includes halving the global per capita food waste per capita at the global level, and in recent years, there has been a growing international interest in it.

“MOTTAINAI” is a word that expresses respect and love for nature and things.
We think it’s important to feel again what the word “MOTTAINAI” means.

We eat “living things”.

Food is essential to our lives, but perhaps we need to be aware of the word “MOTTAINAI”.