Speaking at the FoodEx Japan trade show in Tokyo, a leading importer, wholesaler and retailer of Japanese goods in the UAE said there was vast potential to increase sales in the Middle East.
“Japanese foods have a very good reputation for being of high quality,” said Sreenivas Panikaan, MD of the Deans Group of Companies, headquartered in Dubai.
“Japanese products continue to grow as Arab consumers become more aware of their quality and as manufacturers embrace Halal accreditation.”
Last year Japan exported around 750bn yen of food, with government officials targeting 1bn by 2019.
Therefore, it’s not hard to see why the booming worldwide Halal market could provide ample scope for growth, with the Japan External Trade Organization stating the Muslim food and beverage market is expected to grow to $2.53 trillion by 2019 - double the size of 2013.
However, Panikaan said shelf life issues often made it difficult to seal deals with Japanese manufacturers.
“This often limits the products we can supply,” he said.
“As I go around this country I see many products that would be suitable for the Middle East market.
“But often they only have a shelf life of three to six months. If a product is going to viable for us, I humbly manufacturers to look at this and try and extend it to nine to 12 months.
“This will greatly help with the marketing and sale of Japanese products in the Middle East,” he added.
He went on to praise the growing number of Japanese companies seeking halal accreditation from either the NPO Japan Halal Association or the Japan Islamic Trust.
Both, he said, were widely known and trusted by consumers.
“Likewise, companyies which are producing ingredients in Indonesia and Malaysia are able to gain certification in those countries, before manufacturing in Japan,” he added.
In recent months a number of Japanese firms have secured halal certification, including confectionery manufacturer Kabaya Foods and Coffee drink maker UCC Ueshima.
Panikaan urged more manufactures to seek certification, adding: “We want many more options so we can create a beneficial future for all. Together we can become much bigger because Japanese products are so well received in the UAE.”