Japan Focus: NPD, dairy price hikes, Ajinomoto profits plunge, Kirin's alignment plans and more feature in this round-up

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Japanese food manufacturers are scrambling to produce ever greater rangers of convenience foods to suit fast-paced modern lifestyles. ©House Foods
Japanese food manufacturers are scrambling to produce ever greater rangers of convenience foods to suit fast-paced modern lifestyles. ©House Foods

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NPD, dairy price hikes, Ajinomoto profits plunge, Kirin's alignment plans and more feature in this edition of Japan focus.

10 minute meals: NPD in Japan increasingly dominated by convenience

From retort packs to freeze-dried products, Japanese food manufacturers are scrambling to produce ever greater rangers of convenience foods​ to suit fast-paced modern lifestyles.

Since February 11, House Foods has launched four new retort items, namely curry chicken and pork, ginger and chili flavoured tofu. 

Similarly, Ajinomoto’s latest list of new launches also showcased retort food, including chicken breast meat that could be cooked within five minutes.

Others such as Asahi had announced the plan to ramp up its production of freeze-dried food.

Japan’s food exports reach new record highs with beef and sake sales booming

Japan’s food exports enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2018​, with sharp increase seen in beef and sake exports.

As a whole, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries exports rose 12.4% YoY to reach JYP$906.8bn (US$8.3bn), the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) said during a press conference.

With the stellar performance last year, the ministry believes that the aim of achieving JYP$1tr​ (US$9bn) this year is at hand.

"To achieve the 1 trillion yen goal, we need an annual growth of more than 10%. By supporting producers of export items, we'll strive to meet the target,"​ MAFF minister Takamori Yoshikawa said during the press conference.

Japan dairy price hikes: Three major brands to pass on increased production costs

Morinaga, Megmilk Snowbrand, and Meiji, will introduce new prices for their milk, yogurt, and other dairy products with effect from April 1​, as firms seek to come to terms with lower domestic milk production and higher costs.

In total, 235 products, ranging from milk, yogurt, to chilled desserts, will be repriced.

The bulk of it – 111 will come from Meiji, with 79 from Megmilk Snowbrand, and 45 from Morinaga.

These products are sold to either B2B food service partners or for retail..

The companies have published the list of products that will be repriced and the percentage change in pricing on their websites.

Profitability forecast plunges for Ajinomoto as overseas operations incur costs

Japanese food firm Ajinomoto had revised its performance forecast for FY 2018​, mainly due to impairment losses incurred by its overseas businesses.

The impairment loss were incurred by Ajinomoto Foods North America (AFNA) and Promasidor Holdings.

This had led the firm to revise its performance forecast​ for FY2018.

As a result, business profit forecast is likely to drop to JPY$86.2bn (US$784m), 9.9% lower than the previous forecast of JPY$95.7bn (US$871m).

The forecast of profit attributable to owners of the parent company also plunged 60.7% from JPY$55bn (US$500m) to JPY$21.6bn (US$196m). 

All-rounder ambitions: Kirin announces plan to bridge businesses between beer, functional food, and pharma

Kirin — which has its roots in the beer business — has launched a nine-year plan to better align its food, nutrition and pharma sections, with a major focus on health and wellness​.

CEO Yoshinori Isozaki announced the “Kirin Group Vision 2027” on Thursday (Feb 14).

The firm aims to be a global CSV (Creating Shared Value) leader providing value-adding services across multiple portfolios, from serving general needs to special needs, preventative healthcare, and medical treatment by 2027.

“The Kirin Group will expand the business of high-functioning ingredients and establish a unique business model by leveraging the Kirin Group’s extensive experience and assets in pharmaceuticals and food & beverages so as to provide solutions to health issues that have not been addressed.

“The Kirin Group will launch several new businesses that offer products and services tailored to meet the specific need of individual consumers and will eventually grow them into another core of the Group,”​ according to a company’s statement.

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