The Japanese give great importance to food spending, to which they devote an average of 25 percent of household economic income. This is quite a high share when compared to levels in major Western countries. Among the most widely purchased consumer products are all kinds of bread and other industrial bakery products, whose popularity is steadily increasing.
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Although almost all of Japan’s grain demand is covered by imports, more than 90 percent of baked goods are produced directly in Japan. Depending on the product category, however, there is room for growth in imports as well. In particular, a high-quality bakery can meet the high standard of living and sophisticated consumption that characterize this market.
SALES OPPORTUNITIES FOR ITALIAN PRODUCTS
Italy is already exporting some types of baked goods to Japan. However, shall Italian food companies prove capable of seizing the opportunities the market offers, they can further expand their range of offerings. In 2022 (January-November), Italy exported to Japan bakery products worth about 30 million euros.
Bread with spices, wafers, and savory extrudates are among the Italian bakery products whose exports in the first eleven months of 2022 increased: not only in value but also in volume, confirming that the trend has not been altered by inflation. The most significant export increase was in salted extrudates, whose sales rose by +77.8 percent in value and +48.6 percent in volume.
During the period under review, exports of Italian sweet bakery (fruit tarts, currant bread, panettone, meringues, etc.) to Japan grew by +21.7 percent in value, approaching 13 million euros, and by +14.6 percent in volume. Savory bakery offerings (pizzas, cakes, and various baked goods) also performed well: +10.5% in value and +5.3% in volume. In this specific segment, the Japanese market seems to like high-quality products with natural ingredients. Butter is an ingredient whose popularity has been growing over the past few years, and its use for cookies and crispy waffles has become more and more popular.
In a market where the growth rate of inflation is driven by food (up 7 percent as of December 2022), average prices of some bakery products are continuing to rise, making imports competitive as well.