Economist Gianluca Bagnara from the European delegation

How to make sales in Japan

Over the past few days, the media have covered the mission to Tokyo of Europe's commissioner for agriculture Phil Hogan. The delegation also included Italian economist Gianluca Bagnara.

The EPA agreement between Europe and Japan represents a great opportunity to reduce the costs to access this market. Japan has a food self-sufficiency of 66%, which drops to 34% in the case of fruit.

Phil Hogan and Gianluca Bagnara (right)

"Japan is a good market for good-quality productions but it is also risky for those who think they can get away with mediocre quality, as the quality standard in Japanese markets is very high. Consumers purchase products when they accept their value so, if a product is not promoted in the right way, it goes unnoticed."   

The popularity of the GlobalGAP standard in increasing in Japan in view of the 2020 Olympic Games and organic produce is also growing.

"In order to be able to sell in Japan, it is important to have local agents or partners that can communicate with the interested parties. It is also important to cooperate with famous chefs, especially if they are from leading restaurants."

Japan counts 127 million inhabitants, 50% of which live in three metropolis. It is the third global economy and the population tends to be very old (39% are over 65 while only 15% are under 15), so it is declining.

Houses are small and so are the kitchens, so people shop for food multiple times a week (56% of families goes food shopping 2-3 times a week and 22% almost every day). This is also due to the great attention to the freshness of food.

"The need to adapt the packaging to various occasions means local partners are needed to perfect the last stage of processing."

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