1) Ice cream tops consumers’ wishlists
According to a recent survey conducted by Yano Research Institute, ice cream ranks as number one top dessert choice among Japanese consumers.
Of the 2,626 respondents, 78.1% said they either ‘love’ or ‘like’ ice cream, while only 1.3% ‘dislike’ or ‘hate’ it.
Furthermore, the majority of the respondents (53.4%) eat ice cream more than once a week, with supermarkets and convenience stores the preferred retail outlets for purchase.
As with many products in Japan, limited editions prove to be incredibly popular.
2) Healthy chocolate hots the sweet spot
According to All Nippon Kashi Association, Japan’s chocolate market is witnessing growth due to its perceived health benefits.
Its latest data shows that production value of chocolate now stands at JPY380 billion (up 4.4%) and retail value has hit JPY526 billion (up 4.4%).
There has been particularly strong sales of high-cocoa chocolates.
Companies tapping into this trend include Meiji with its Chocolate Koka series, a range of high-polyphenol chocolate containing 72-95% cocoa.
Likewise Lotte’s ‘Nyusankin Chocolat’ series contains probiotics, but remains shelf-stable.
3) Candy crush for seniors
The latest production value of candies is ranked at JPY188 billion (up 5%), and retail value was JPY261 billion (up 4%).
Sales are strong for products for children (in small bags), but functional products for health-conscious consumers, especially the elderly, are also performing well.
All Nippon Kashi Association noted: “Seniors are active candy consumers and are increasingly affecting the market, with the result that demand for health-oriented products that emphasize functionality is rising higher than ever before.”
With the increasing numbers of small households and growing demand for light snacking, there is also growing demand for low-volume packages and individually-wrapped products.
4) Ice cream still on a roll?
Ice cream may be the nation’s top desert, but rolled ice cream is rapidly gaining traction among younger consumers.
These originate in Thailand, but it is now becoming a major global trend, with outlets opening in the US and Europe. A New York style cold plate ice cream store “Roll Ice Cream Factory” opened its first store in Jingumae, Tokyo in June 2017.
After the liquid ice cream is placed on plate cooled down to below -10 degrees celsius, it is rolled up with a spatula.
This procedure is fun to watch, and the fruits and sauce decorations make the rolls even more appealing, especially for younger consumers who then post pictures of their purchases on Instagram.