FoodEx Japan 2018

Watch: Can exports to Japan help offset some of Britain's food and drink Brexit blues?

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Japan might be a notoriously difficult market to enter – especially for food and drink SMEs – but the UK is optimistic it can provide significant opportunities to increase exports.

With Brexit looming large on the horizon, bringing with it widely-publicised concerns about market access, new trade rules and British food firms’ reliance on European labour, increasing exports to Asia has become a major focus.

At present, 72% of the nation’s food and non-alcoholic drinks exports still go to the EU – and seven of its ten biggest export markets remain in Europe.

However, this was being viewed not as a hindrance by the UK’s delegation to FoodEx Japan last week, but as evidence of the scale of opportunity that exists in Japan and the wider APAC region.

Both delegation organisers and exhibitors said they believed Japan offered continued growth opportunities, following several years of trade gains.

In this video we find out which products from the UK traditionally fare well in Japan, and assess some of the emerging categories that could prove popular.

We also discuss what factors lead Japanese consumers’ to seek out British brands and look at the help and support that officials can offer companies seeking to enter the market.

Priority market

Awareness of Japan’s potential as a key food and drink target increased at the end of 2016 when the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Andrea Leadsom – a major supporter of the Leave campaign - highlighted the country in an industry action plan.

The document promoting export growth zoned in on nine markets, of which only two – France and Germany – were in the EU.

It set a target for achieving an additional £185m (US$260m) of exports to Japan over five years.

“With improved market access (beef and poultry) commodity trading will form a key element of our campaign. We will be promoting British ingredients for the foodservice market (including seafood) whilst focusing on traditional ambient grocery (tea, biscuits, preserves) for the retail market.

“There are big opportunities for promotion during global sporting events, such as the Rugby World Cup (2019) and Tokyo Olympics (2020),”​ stated the plan.

Take a look at our video to see how the delegation at FoodEx Japan aimed to capitalise on these opportunities.

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