Japan Focus: Government's Fukushima foods strategy, Sapporo's malt alternatives, organic opportunities and more in our round-up

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Japanese authorities have been engaging both tourists and foreign governments in a double-pronged strategy to promote food products produced in areas that were hardest hit by the nuclear disaster in 2011. ©Getty Images
Japanese authorities have been engaging both tourists and foreign governments in a double-pronged strategy to promote food products produced in areas that were hardest hit by the nuclear disaster in 2011. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Japan, nuclear, Organic, Dessert

The Japanese government's Fukushima foods strategy, Sapporo's malt alternatives, organic opportunities and more feature in this edition of Japan Focus.

Nuclear challenge: How Japan has boosted food exports from disaster hit Fukushima – exclusive government interview

Japanese authorities have been engaging both tourists and foreign governments in a double-pronged strategy to promote food products produced in areas that were hardest hit by the nuclear disaster in 2011​, according to a senior government official.

FoodNavigator-Asia​ recently spoke to Naohiko Yokoshima, the Director of Export Promotion Division, Food Industry Bureau at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to find out more about the ministry's strategies to promote food produced in Fukushima.

He said that one of the key strategies included regular and sustained engagement with foreign governments to prove the safety of exports from the region.

Safety, speed and sincerity: Three tips for overseas food firms seeking to do business in Japan

Japan is a notoriously difficult market for overseas food and beverage firms to crack, but here are three top tips from one of the country’s leading trading partners​.

Ocean Trading, from Shiga Prefecture, has a 45-year pedigree and turnover of JPY23bn (US$207m) and specialises in importing seafood, fruit and vegetables.

The company has a 30% share of the raw Norwegian salmon market in Japan and is on the lookout for new overseas partners.

But in order to succeed in Japan, the firm stressed three key qualities it was looking for: 

Third category beer: Malt alternatives a focus for Japanese giant Sapporo

Japanese beer maker Sapporo Breweries is to devote more attention to so-called ‘third category beers’ – those which use malt alternatives such as soy and pea protein​ - in its home market this year.

The firm says such products are becoming more popular among consumers and manufacturers due to its low tax rate.

“Because of forthcoming consumption tax increase, consumers tend to buy cheaper products such as the third category beers,”​  Mika Harada, Senior Manager of the Public Relations section said in response to queries from FoodNavigator-Asia.

Japan had previously announced that the consumption tax would increase from the current 8% to 10% on Oct 1 this year.

Organic products in Japan: Strict standards, small market, but huge opportunities - Retailer

Adhering to Japan’s strict organic standards and requirements is the biggest hurdle for overseas firms trying to get a foothold​ in the nation’s fledgling sector, which is now being tipped for a growth spurt.

That’s the view of Bio c’ Bon Merchandising Department General Manager Akiteru Imai, who shared his views at FoodEx Japan.

The firm was formed as a joint venture between Japanese organic pioneers Aeon and Marne & Finance Europe, which operates Bio c’ Bon in France. It currently runs four “casual organic” stores in Tokyo and aims to have 50 branches by 2020.

And although demand for organic is relatively small in Japan – with annual growth relatively stagnant compared to an average of 13% across APAC as a whole - consumer interest is slowly growing and there could be vast opportunities future for suppliers – providing they can meet the stringent local standards.

Sweet treats: Four top trends from Japan’s dessert and confectionery sectors

From ice cream on a roll, to high-cocoa content chocolate, here are four trends currently shaping Japan’s confectionery and dessert categories​ as seen at the recent FoodEx Japan show.

These are: Ice cream as a top consumer dessert choice, Healthy chocolate, Functional candies for seniors and Rolled ice cream

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