Pizza Hut in Japan adds rice bases to menu as wheat costs soar

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – Pizza Hut in Japan is turning to rice to make its pizzas after wheat prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.

The fast-food chain will start offering a selection of mini pizzas using rice as a base rather than wheat flour from Aug 22, with toppings including Iberico pork and teriyaki chicken. The new range will initially be available for about six weeks, but could become a regular menu item if demand is strong.

“We are always thinking of ways to make our products appealing to Japanese customers, and rice is obviously a perfect fit,” said Ms Emi Mikado, a representative for Pizza Hut Japan, which is in the process of being acquired by Yamae Group Holdings.

“On top of that, we are seeing this surge in wheat prices,” she added.

Wheat skyrocketed after Russia’s war in Ukraine cut off supplies from one of the world’s major breadbaskets, driving some food producers to mix or switch to cheaper alternatives in their bread, pastries and pasta, although prices have fallen lately. The rice used by Pizza Hut Japan will be sourced domestically.

The price of rice has been more subdued due to ample production and existing stockpiles. In Japan, the crop provides the added benefit of not having to rely on overseas supply, a key factor for a country that produces only 38 per cent of its food on a caloric basis and 66 per cent on a value basis.

Japanese consumers will be able to get three mini pizzas, a side dish of chicken nuggets and French fries for 1,350 yen (S$13.70).