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Fresh Food in Japan

Japan fresh food market: Sales to decline due to reliance on processed foods

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2014-04-22 07:31:04 - Fresh Food in Japan - a new market research report on

With the Japanese population likely to continue to decline over the medium term, sales in the Japan fresh food market will continue to decline. Add to this the greater reliance on processed foods for both elderly and younger consumer groups and the Japanese fresh food industry is in line for a period of continued change. So is the Japanese farming sector, which desperately needs modernisation and is threatened by Japan´s proposed engagement with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP, a free trade pact), which would open the sector up to tariff-free competition.

In part related to Japan´s ageing population, health and wellness has long been a significant trend across much of fast-moving consumer goods. Recession or no recession, Japanese consumers continue to favour



products and ingredients that promise improved health. This has proved all the more important to manufacturers as consumers are willing to pay a premium for such products, which has meant that although household budgets are being squeezed consumers have on the whole been happy to spend on products which have the allure of improved health benefits.

In part linked to health and wellness, Japanese consumers continue to have heightened sensitivity to health concerns revolving around fresh food. Most notably the Fukushima nuclear incident continues to have an influence on consumers´ confidence over a range of fresh food products, so too have protracted issues with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow disease") in the national cattle herds as well as salmonella in eggs and poultry. Whilst the risk in many cases might be considered low, any health threat has a tendency to be covered somewhat sensationally in the national press and television, which tends to have a deep and long-lasting effect on consumption.

Whilst safety of domestic production remains paramount, the fact is that Japan relies on imports for almost 40% of the caloric intake. Whilst this figure is low by historic standards it still places Japanese consumers in an uneasy position of relying on international production standards which are often highlighted as being somewhat below those associated with domestic produce. Whilst domestic produce is often preferred, imports tend to be much cheaper than domestic produce, which makes for an interesting quandary for many consumers, namely whether to choose pricing over safety. Also Japanese have an increasing interest in the "exotic" and unusual, which has led to a broadening of the national diet, again driven by imports. So whilst the imports confound, they also excite.

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Mike King
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