Japan Focus: Aiya matcha in Middle East, beef exports to Japan, Morinaga and Meiji’s new FFCs, Japanese seafood export markets

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

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©Getty Images

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Aiya’s endeavours in Middle East matcha market, US’s efforts to increase beef exports to Japan, Morinaga Milk and Meiji’s new FFC launches, and expansion of Japanese seafood export markets feature in this edition of Japan Focus.

Japan’s Aiya eyes growth opportunities in Middle East’s nascent matcha market

Japan-headquartered Aiya is looking to seize growth opportunities in the Middle East, where the matcha market is still in its infancy and has significant room for expansion.

The firm made its entry into the region five years ago, at a time where matcha was relatively unknown to local consumers.

Although there is still “a big difference” in the awareness of matcha among consumers in the Middle East, compared to Asian countries like Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea, there has been growing interest in matcha and its applications in food and beverage products, largely driven by its health benefits.

Beefing up activity: US hopes to drive Japan exports as tourism rebounds and retail opportunities emerge

The US is hoping to see a resurgence in beef exports to Japan on the back of a post-pandemic increase in tourism and new retail opportunities, after reporting a 23% drop in 2023 to shipments valued at $1.8bn.

The sector has been ramping up its activity in the country in recent weeks, with a significant presence at both FoodEx Japan, which FoodNavigator- Asia​ attended, and the Japan Supermarket Trade Show.

Trade body U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) said FoodEx Japan provided a significant opportunity to engage an audience eager for premium beef and pork, as well as cultivate enduring relationships with Japan’s retail giants.

The association said the weak yen, Japan’s high import duties, and declining disposable incomes had hurt beef demand, but the recent rebound in tourism is driving some optimism in the foodservice sector.    

Morinaga introduces new multifunctional FFCs targeting bone and gut health, fatigue-relief amid growing demand

Morinaga Milk is slated to roll out several new Foods with Function Claims (FFCs) that target the major health concerns of Japanese consumers, and to meet the increasing demand for multifunctional products.

One of the new launches is an addition to the firm’s Bifidus Yogurt range. Named the “Bifidus Yogurt Bone Density Countermeasure Drink Type”, it contains Morinaga’s Bifidobacterium longum​ BB536 (B. longum ​BB536) and maltobionic acid.

The product claims to provide “double care for bones and intestines”.

Fresh opportunities: Japanese seafood exporters look to new markets to hit ‘5 trillion yen’ target after China ban

Japanese officials and seafood exporters have joined forces to explore new overseas markets, with the sector still reeling from China’s import ban in the wake of the Fukushima wastewater release last year.

At the recent FoodEx show in Tokyo, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) held a networking reception party to support businesses that want to develop new overseas sales channels due to the treated wastewater issue.

The MAFF and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) set up over 1,000 meetings at FoodEx, and deployed a raft of marketing strategies to drive additional sales.

This included renowned chef Hideyoshi Kudo providing a cooking demonstration on the characteristics of Japanese marine products and how to prepare them.

Chef Kudo also held a session with fishermen and wholesalers active in the Noto Peninsula, where he talked to overseas buyers about Japan’s rich marine resources, fishing industry, and the high quality of Japanese marine products.

Crocetin creation: Meiji launching functional milk beverage that supports vision and sleep

Meiji is set to release a new FFC product that it says would support eye accommodation and improve sleep quality.

The milk beverage, called Meiji Eye and Sleep W Support, contains 7.5mg of functional ingredient crocetin, a carotenoid derived from gardenia fruit and saffron. Due to its small molecular weight, it can be easily absorbed into the body.

With this launch, Meiji seeks to address current concerns of Japanese consumers, particularly among the young- to middle-aged population.

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