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[Columns]Ume has been revaluated

Minabegawa Village adjacent to Tanabe City is Japan's No. 1 ""ume"" plum producing region. The village office is the only one in the country that has a ""ume"" section. The number of ume farms has been declining slightly in the past several years throughout the nation but is on the rise in Minabegawa Village. Nanki Pickled Ume Plum Co., a long established company that has been in operation since 1928, is increasing the production of pickled ume plums by expanding its factory facilities. It exports its products to about 15 countries centering chiefly on the West Coast of the United States. It also imports some ume from China.
Company President Susumu Hosokawa said, ""Ume has been revaluated as a healthy food as we strived for low salt contained in ume. Also, ume and processed ume products such as ume paste are being sold at convenient stores in the wake of a sharp increase in the sale of 'onigiri' rice balls and 'bento' lunch boxes. We will continue our efforts to improve ume species and further develop the methods of making pickled ume and its taste."" With the world's food life in the 2000s in view, Kinan appears set to continue a challenge of spreading its traditional taste of foods and working out new technology. (J)