Japan the first stop for Icelandic yogurt brand’s Asia expansion

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bolli Thoroddsen, Director of Takanawa (from left), Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ari Edwald, Director of MS, Kouji Fushimi, Director of Nippon Luna and Kanji Bando, Managing Executive Officer of Nippon Ham witnessed the signing of the agreement.
Bolli Thoroddsen, Director of Takanawa (from left), Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ari Edwald, Director of MS, Kouji Fushimi, Director of Nippon Luna and Kanji Bando, Managing Executive Officer of Nippon Ham witnessed the signing of the agreement.
Japanese company Nippon Luna has signed an agreement with Icelandic firm MS Iceland Dairies (MS) for production of the latter’s Ísey Skyr dairy products.

A new factory will be built in Japan as part of the agreement.

Japan will be the first country to sell Ísey Skyr products in Asia. Ísey Skyr is currently available in a number of European countries, such as the UK, Finland and Italy.

This is also the biggest deal that MS has completed for Ísey Skyr products so far.

The goal of the agreement is to make Ísey Skyr available in as many Japanese grocery stores as possible, with a focus in the Tokyo area.

The Ísey Skyr brand consists of traditional Iceland yogurt which has little to no fats, and is high in protein at the same time. 

In response to FoodNavigator-Asia’s queries, Nippon Luna explained that one reason for bringing in Ísey Skyr products, is because they foresee that high protein foods will be popular with the Japanese.

It said that production is expected to kick in and reach the shelves next spring or summer.

MS added that the factory in Japan will use Icelandic cultures and production recipe.

It also said in its statement that it “has been aware of the great interest in Japan for several years and Iceland’s Japanese embassy has received many queries on where to buy Ísey skyr in Japan.”

Nippon Luna is a dairy company owned by Nippon Ham, one of Japan's largest frozen and frozen foods, as well as the fourth largest meat producer in the world.

Japan’s yogurt market size

In terms of market size, Japan is the second largest in the world, trailing after the United States.

Yogurt and sour milk products in Japan maintained rapid growth in 2017, recording a 5% retail current value increase to reach JPY 1,054 billion, due to continuous strong interest in the health benefits of yogurt amongst Japanese consumers across age groups, according to Megumi Matsunaga, senior analyst at Euromonitor International.

“Due to aggressive promotions through various media throughout the review period, the idea that yogurt is good for health has become a common perception amongst consumers,” she said. 

Yogurt and sour milk products is expected to continue to post a positive performance and reach JPY 1,257.5 billion in 2022.

Incorporated into athletes diet

The 2020 Olympics will be held in Tokyo and Nippon Luna hopes that by then, Ísey skyr will have become a part of the Japanese athletes’ diet. 

MS added that “Japan is the country that other Asian countries look to when it comes to product innovations”​ and it hopes that Ísey skyr’s entry into the Japanese market will lead to further market opportunities in Asia.

Besides Asia, Ísey skyr will also be available in Russia from this month.

Related topics: Japan

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