East Asia Market Realities: Japan F&B landscape

Welcome to Tokyo! I'm Shintaro Nakamura, the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Business Development Manager based here in the bustling city of Tokyo.

Japan is an exciting market for New Zealand food and beverage companies and it is important to fully understand the Japanese consumer if you want your products to be highly successful in this market.

What better way to understand the Japanese than heading to a Japanese home here in central Tokyo.

Hello and welcome to my home.

We are a family of four with two children.

We spend $250 - $400 per week on food.

I purchase food online twice a week.

For fish, meat and other fresh foods I visit the supermarket once per week.

We eat out for dinner once or twice a week.

We have meat with most of our meals.

We mostly buy beef, followed by chicken.

My favourite product from New Zealand is kiwifruit.

My husband drinks wine or alcohol every evening.

I think he probably drinks New Zealand wine too.

This is butter.

This is ham.

These are yogurts.

So that nothing gets wasted and everyone can easily eat what they want at any time, we always buy these conveniently sized packets.

127 million people call Japan home, with a median age of 47, and more than 25% of the population is over 65.

The average household size is 2.23, but it's even smaller in the capital city of Tokyo at 1.93.

Most households spend about 14% of their income on food, but the way they're spending is changing, spending less on staples such as rice, but more on meat, vegetables and prepared foods.

Consumers in Japan are also changing where they shop, with strong growth being seen in convenience stores.

Japanese consumers eat out most weeks, spending $30 each time.

And like many other parts of the world, Japan is seeing a surge in online shopping, but not for fresh food; this is still purchased in traditional supermarkets.

With the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics just around the corner, it’s an exciting time to explore Japan as an export market.
Here are my two tips:

First, understand that the Japanese expect products to be tailored to Japanese needs,
And what's been popular overseas will not automatically be accepted as is in Japan.

Number two: Don't be disheartened by the complicated nature of the Japanese distribution networks. I can assure you it is also the world's most efficient.

I look forward to welcoming you to Tokyo.