The 60% of Japan’s needs in food products or food raw materials are covered by imports. This percentage is expected to be further increased due to the ongoing aging of the rural population. The Japanese food market owns the second market share worldwide, and in Japan food goods rank the third place of imported products (by value).
The Japanese consumers demand quality and spend a larger percentage of their disposable income for consumer goods than other developed markets do. Japan takes a positive stance for companies that rely on the authenticity and originality of their products or brands. The Japanese market is a highly competitive market, so exporting companies should adapt their products to local habits and tastes. Companies try to reach out to Japanese buyers with arrogance will face more difficulties than those using a gradual approach and an adaptation strategy to local conditions.
The positive characteristics of the Japanese market
There are many reasons for a company to launch its products to Japan:
- stable and secure business environment
- a smart market entry strategy to other Asian markets
- consumers with high education level who quickly adopt new products and services
- broad and affluent consumer market in large urban areas
- the metropolitan center of Tokyo is the largest city in the world with a population of about 35 million people
Problems and prospects for agricultural exports
The main problems that agricultural products face to access the Japanese market are:
- Ban on import of fresh fruit and vegetables, under the guise of plant diseases
- Complicated import procedures
- extremely complex import requirements for import of fresh meat and meat preparations
However, there is increased interest in establishing business partnerships between the EU and Japan as a representative of the Offices of Economic and Commercial Affairs (ECA) of the Greek Embassy in Tokyo mentioned to Agrotypos. The negotiations between the EU and Japan on the conclusion of the Economic Partnership Agreement and Free Trade Agreement began in April 2013 and are still in progress. After the signing of the Agreement, it will be required 2-3 more years to be in force.
Food products of interest for the Japanese market
The following food products have positive prospects for the Japanese market: – Frozen vegetables (corn, peas, beans, etc.) – Olive oil, olives – Dairy – Canned food (canned peaches etc.) – Ready-to-eat meals and micro-meals (snacks) – Honey – Special categories of PDO and PGI products – Organic products
Business presence on the Japanese market
According to the ECA, in case a bussinesman would like to enter in the Japanese market, should have carried out an in-depth investigation including: – research of products and competitors – a market entry strategy – test your products, eg by sending samples – come in contact with Japanese buyers in international fairs or by visiting Japan – asking experts in Japan to value your product. A bussinesman could gain presence in the Japanese market by: – the establishment of representative office, in the form a branch or subsidiary company – creating joint business company or a strategic partnership with a Japanese company – acquisition of a Japanese company. The capital required for establishing a company (CP) has been reduced to 1 yen. The foundation of a company is estimated to be completed in 14 days.