Japan review: The Top 10 most-read Japan food and beverage stories in 2022
‘Insects the new sushi’: Ÿnsect sees Japan and Korea as attractive markets for mealworm protein
Ÿnsect focused its efforts on the Japanese and Korean markets earlier this year after securing success in a national trade contest and signing a high-profile research partnership.
The firm was founded in 2011, and currently operates a factory in France for its animal nutrition and fertiliser business and another facility in the Netherlands for human nutrition.
“We focus on mealworm because it is easier to industrialise compared to other insects. Mealworms also have a high protein content of about 72% in powder and have a low fat content, whereas beef or chicken can give about 25 to 30% protein,” said Bruno Grandsard, strategy committee member supporting Ÿnsect’s global development.
Democratising cultured meat: Japan’s Integriculture pushes co-culture tech to reduce costs
Japanese cultured meat firm Integriculture has highlighted its co-culture technology as one of the fastest ways to bring down the cost of cellular agriculture and allow more F&B industry players to become part of the cultured meat sector.
One of the cultured meat sector’s most major hurdles to cost reduction and price parity has been recognised for a long time to be the high cost of growth factors required to grow cells into meat, but Japan-based Integriculture believes that it has uncovered the solution to this with its CulNet co-culture system.
“The co-culture approach is one that involves the use of multiple types of ‘feeder cells’ to produce growth factors in situ in their own individual feeder bioreactors, then have these growth factors fed as a cultured serum to the target cells, for example muscle cells to produce meat, in a target cell bioreactor,” Integriculture Founder and CEO Yuki Hanyu said at the Cellular Agriculture: Asia Summit 2022.
Japan GM foods update: Tighter labelling regulations issued for products with genetically modified components
Japan updated its food labelling regulations earlier this year for foods with genetically modified components, and will enact a national ‘non-GM’ labelling system update in 2023.
The Japanese government has had a tumultuous love-hate relationship with GM foods for a number of years, with some departments believing these require stronger labelling management.
Others, meanwhile, have been working to provide proof that GM crops are of no danger to the local ecosystem or food safety, and can provide a much-needed boost to the local food supply.
The local Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) published documentation announcing that nine major agricultural products were subject to mandatory GM labelling (up from the previous eight), as were processed foods using these as ingredients.
Demand planning: How Coca-Cola is utilising data, consumption patterns to slash food waste in Japan
Coca-Cola has revealed how it is deploying data and striving to extend shelf life to help slash food waste in Japan.
Head of Digital at Coca-Cola Bottlers Japan Inc., Khalil Maaouni, said the firm had made improvements in forecasting demand for its 250,000 outlets and 700,000 vending machines in Japan.
“To produce what we need, we follow the baseline method, along with historical data, patterns, habits, weather, like whether it’s sunny or raining, and when to introduce new products because the Japanese love novelty. However, we consider other circumstances, such as COVID-19,” he said.
Seafood resuscitation: Japan rolls out new fishery policy to revive and industrialise much-challenged sector
The Japanese government has introduced a new national fishery policy to promote efficient industrialisation and revitalisation for the local industry in view of the many challenges the one-prosperous sector has faced over the past several years.
Seafood has historically been one of Japan’s most traditional and treasured protein sources, with the country being famed for dishes made using fish such as salmon and unagi – but in recent years, the trend appears to have been going in the opposite direction, with many of the younger generation’s consumers shunning seafood in favour of chicken or pork.
Research unveiled in 2021 saw that Japan is showing the steepest decline in seafood consumption globally amongst countries with over 30kg of seafood consumed per capita.
Trend-based launches: Kirin rolls out first hard seltzers and new Japanese whiskey products
Alcohol giant Kirin launched its first hard seltzers as well as whiskey in Japan this year, in response to rising trends surrounding ready-to-drink (RTD) consumption and sustained interest in the country’s whiskey sector.
The RTD alcoholic drinks consumption trend is picking up speed particularly amongst Japanese consumers in the 20 to 30-year-old age group, with Kirin highlighting that the sales forecast for hard seltzers has been predicted to grow to take over approximately 11% of Japan’s entire local RTD category sales.
This will be very significant not just for the company but for the beverage industry as a whole due to the sheer values involved - as of 2022 the RTD category sales value came in at US$152mn, and this is predicted to reach US$395mn by 2027.
Japan net alcohol labelling: Voluntary scheme to be eased in to avoid eco and cost impacts – Kirin
Japanese firms will gradually introduce a new voluntary net alcohol labelling scheme to avoid cost and environmental impacts, beer giant Kirin told us earlier this year.
The Japanese government approved the net alcohol labelling scheme as part of the national Basic Plan for the Promotion of Measures to Cope with Alcohol Health Disorders (Phase 2) in March 2021, which calls for alcoholic drink labels to replace ABV alcohol percentages (%) with net alcohol content (g).
So far, this scheme is a voluntary one for the industry, but many firms have already expressed their willingness to participate and implement this as per government recommendations, as is commonly seen in Japan when a suggested directive or national plan is announced.
‘Regional treasures’: South Korea and Japan step up fight against country-of-origin food fraud
Both the South Korean and Japanese governments moved to reinforce the robustness of their food authenticity systems against Geographical Indication (GI) and country-of-origin adulteration earlier in 2022 via initiatives including a new operational council and strict crackdowns.
The East Asian countries are amongst the most active in the Asia Pacific region in terms of registering local food items for GI protection – Both countries have well over 100 GI-registered products.
Japan announced the setting up of a specialised Japan GI Protection Council in order to oversee the promotion and development of GI products in the country, to be chaired by All Japan Food Association chairman Yoshihiro Murata and comprising 91 GI-registered organisations in addition to the local food industry, related organisations and local governments as members.
Japan GM food: New data ‘further supports’ the case for genetically modified ingredients – government study
The Japanese government has found no evidence of genetically modified (GM) food ingredient crops posing any risk to surrounding biodiversity in a nation-wide study, seemingly further supporting the case for GM foods to be granted wider berth in the local food supply.
Japan has been conducting studies on GM food crops including soybeans and rapeseed since 2006, and the 2020/2021 report has concluded that the cultivation of these GM crops poses no risk to local biodiversity.
“We have been studying GM crop cultivation sites and collecting samples of these crops to compare with non-GM crops of the same species growing within five kilometres of the sites [in order to] investigate whether any crossing of genetic material took place,” the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) said via a formal statement.
‘In a bind’: Japan alcohol sector voices concerns for industry growth after being battered by new round of COVID-19 restrictions
In the first quarter of 2022, the alcohol industry in Japan was concerned over the impacts of the country’s COVID-19 restrictions on the sector’s growth, with many businesses in a stake of flux and uncertainty and even major traditional breweries looking to expand into broader sectors.
The government first put 14 prefectures in Japan under a ‘quasi-state of emergency’ in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers and the emergence of the Omicron variant, which led to the reinstatement of measures such as stopping the serving of alcohol at an earlier hour and a ban on large-scale events.
These measures were supposed to be lifted on March 7, but were then extended in several major prefectures including Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido, which spurred the added concerns.