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Taiwan govt to roll out cheaper NT$60 bento boxes amid rising prices

'Zero-hunger' initiative part of campaign to promote agri-food education

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Mackerel bento box from Taiwan Railways. (TRA photo)

Mackerel bento box from Taiwan Railways. (TRA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The agricultural authorities of Taiwan will start providing low-priced bento boxes at NT$60 (US$2) in June amid inflation woes and as part of a “zero-hunger” initiative.

The measure is in line with legislation enacted in April to promote agri-food education, the centerpiece of which is supporting local farmers and ensuring people’s access to food, per the Liberty Times.

In metropolitan areas, the government will roll out discounted mackerel bento boxes for NT$60, down from the original NT$100, in collaboration with retailers. A bento usually consists of one main dish, three side dishes, and rice. Prices vary, but in many parts of Taiwan, the meals now exceed NT$100.

The bento policy is not only meant to relieve the financial burden on citizens but also to boost sales of domestic agricultural produce and seafood.

At least 1,000 servings will be made available daily, and the trial program will be expanded to more than 1,000 units if well-received, but not in a way that hinders the market, Agriharvest cited Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) as saying. Farmers’ and fishermen's associations nationwide will also launch affordable boxes of meat, fruits, and vegetables.

Meanwhile, thousands of meal stations will be set up in farming and fishing villages, where seniors can enjoy free meals cooked with locally grown ingredients. In addition, disadvantaged groups and charities will be eligible for rice aid from the country’s strategic grain reserves.

Rising prices are being felt in every corner of society as people complain about the higher cost of items ranging from beverages to meal boxes. One netizen expressed disbelief that a bento box eatery is hiking prices for the second time in a month, wrote ETToday, whereas a major fried chicken cutlet business apologized earlier this month for having to increase the price to NT$80 a piece, per UDN.