FoodEx Japan 2018

Six products and trends Japanese buyers are looking for from new food imports

By Staff Reporter

- Last updated on GMT

The exhibition is taking place this week in Chiba, Tokyo.
The exhibition is taking place this week in Chiba, Tokyo.
With the 43rd FoodEx Japan show underway in Tokyo this week, we uncover what some of the nation’s product buyers are on the lookout for when it comes to selecting new imports.

The four-day event will see more than 80,000 buyers from retail, food service, distribution and trading companies attend, with 3,500 exhibitors from across the world showcasing their products.

These are some of the hot topics that Japanese buyers said they were seeking out from the show floor...

1) Halal opportunities

Japanese retailer Don Quijote has 370 stores, including its overseas operations. The firm said halal was increasingly becoming a big focus in Japan. It has recently trialled halal sections at some of its stores and expects this demand to increase.

The company stressed this was still in a pilot phase, but added that it was keen to work with halal suppliers to build its reputation in this sector.

2) Amazon expansion

Latina Inc. specialises in importing Maca from Peru, but is keen to branch out into other Amazon ingredients. The company said the region was home to many medicinal plants, but added there was often a lack of detailed information behind them.

It added that suppliers who could provide evidence of their medical benefits and acceptance in their local markets could well enjoy considerable opportunities in Japan.

3) Traceability and seasonality

Seijo Ishii is a high-end specialist chain with almost 100 stores across Japan. The company said customers were increasingly looking for more information around provenance and traceability, and that the importance of seasonality should not be overlooked.

It said this meant suppliers have to be willing to share the full story about their products, which consumer service staff can then pass on consumers. The firm mainly imports wine, dry fruit, nuts, chocolate olive oil, cheese, fresh ham and olives.

4) Flavour and price

Supermarket store Ito-Yokado has around 200 stores in Japan with revenue of JPY1.4 trillion. The company said its three criteria for imports were flavour, freshness and price. It imports fresh and frozen fresh produce, seafood and meat products, with Thailand currently its largest supplier.

The majority of its direct imports are bulk ingredients for prepared foods. The company added it was keen to build relationships with suppliers from South America.

5) Shelf-life stability

Suzusho​ Ltd, founded in 1919, imports and wholesales food products. The key concern for the company when sourcing new products is shelf-life. The firm said that supermarkets or retailers wouldn't buy the product if the remaining shelf life was less than 50%.

It said it was looking for beverages, luxury foods, cereal foods and sweets, but stressed that long-term relationships and a deep understanding of the Japan market were the keys to success.

6) New local produce

Takashimaya has 18 department stores across Japan, and said it was looking for companies who understood how the Japanese market worked. Wines, tea, pasta, jams and olive oil top its list of imports.

While much of their imports come from Italy and France, the company is keen to explore opportunities with businesses in South Africa, Russia and Eastern Europe.

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