This is an updated guide to Japan’s $360 billion Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) Food Service market.
THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY
USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT
Required Report - public distribution
GAIN Report Number: JA2541
Food Service - Hotel Restaurant Institutional
Japan HRI Food Service Sector Report 2013
Steve Shnitzler, Director,
Masayuki (Alex) Otsuka,
Specialist, ATO Tokyo
This is an updated guide to Japan’s $360 billion Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional (HRI) Food Service
market. The food service industry suffered greatly from the affects of the March 11 Great Earthquake in
2011 and due to incidences of food poisoning in 2011 and 2012, but the industry has shown a step by
step recovery in spite of a series of economic downturns. The industry is increasingly offering
international cuisine throughout the market place. Competition remains intense and the sophisticated
Japanese consumer continues to demand high quality food products in their meals. U.S. suppliers are
well positioned to compete in many products categories provided they are willing to adjust to changing
I. MARKET SUMMARY
A. Market Volume and Trend
The food service (HRI) sector was valued at ¥28.27 trillion in 2011, down from 29.13 from in 2010, and
down from ¥30.08 trillion in 2007. Japan’s food service industry is closely tied to the Japanese
economy and has closely tracked general economic conditions, as reflected in chart 1.
Chart 1: The value of the Food Service Industry and Japan’s GDP
Source: Food Service Industry Research Institute (Value), Japan Statistic Bureau
Note: In sections I and II, statistics used in this report are primarily expressed in yen, since year-to-year
fluctuations in the exchange rate distort the reading of trends.
Chart 2: Annual Average Exchange Rates
Year Average 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
JP¥ per US$ 117.93 104.23 93.52 88.09 79.97
Source: Trade Statistic of Japan
Chart 3: Corresponding Value in US$ Using Annual Average Exchange Rates
Japan Food Service Market 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
In Japanese Yen Trillion (¥) 30.35 30.08 29.23 29.31 28.82
In US Dollar Billion ($) 257.36 288.59 312.55 332.73 360.39
Source: Trade Statistic of Japan, Food Service Industry Research Institute
The Principal reasons for fluctuations in the value of the food service sector in the last five years are
attributed to the following:
1. In 2007, steady GDP growth and the corresponding increase in spending among Japanese
2. In 2008 and 2009, the economic influence exerted by the economic collapse and subsequent
world economic downturn decreased discretionary spending on business meals and receptions.
3. In 2009 and 2010, economic recovery and the corresponding increase in spending both
businesses and consumers.
4. The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami deeply impacted the entire economy in Japan and HRI
sales dropped dramatically. For several months, Japanese consumers and business refrained
from any action or event that could be perceived as celebratory.
5. Industry sales have recovered slowly since June 2010, but two deadly food poisoning incidents
slowed down sales and scared consumers away from dining out temporarily in 2011 through
6. In late 2012, industry sources reported that sales are recovering, especially in the less expensive
casual QSR sector and the high-end value restaurant sector. (See Chart 4)
Dining out is an important part of the Japanese culture. The sophisticated Japanese consumer demands
high quality food products in their meals. As per the Chart 2, recent favorable exchange rate shifts favor
to U.S. suppliers, who are well positioned to compete in many product categories provided they are
willing to adjust to changing market demands.
The food service sector has re-organized in the last 5 years as many traditional mom and pop restaurants
have gone out of business and have been replaced by new style family chain restaurants. From 2006 to
2009, the total number of outlets decreased from 786,078 to 721,111, down 8.3 %, and sales also
decreased from 29.97 to 29.21 trillion, down only 2.5% indicating a streamlining in the industry. In
addition, as deflation continues in the general economy, there has been pressure to reduce menu prices,
while at the same time, imported ingredient costs are increasing.
Sales volume in the sector registered increases since 2009. However, after the Great Earthquake and
Tsunami in March 2011, the sector recorded a biggest month to month drop ever. In 2012, sales in the
Japanese food service industry has recovered from 2011. Especially, the sales volume in March 2012
jumped up with more sales than the same month of the year before, and industry sales showed almost
stable growth in October in 2011 through October in 2012.
Chart 4: Sales change of 212 major restaurant chains as compared to the same month of the year 2011
Month Total QSR* FSR* Pub Dining DR* Coffe & Tea Shop Other*
Oct 2011 0.5% 1.4% 0.0% -2.4% 1.1% -0.3% 2.2%
Nov 1.0% 2.7% -0.1% -2.6% 1.3% -1.2% 0.1%
Dec 1.8% 4.0% 0.0% -1.6% 0.3% -0.4% -0.2%
Jan 2012 0.0% 0.7% -0.8% -2.0% 0.7% -0.7% 0.9%
Feb 1.0% 1.9% 0.7% -4.5% 4.3% 3.5% -2.5%
Mar 13.1% 10.1% 13.2% 23.6% 32.3% 11.6% 26.2%
Apr 3.4% 2.9% 4.3% 0.4% 8.6% 4.6% 5.2%
May -1.5% -3.2% 0.2% -0.8% 2.6% 1.6% 2.0%
Jun 2.6% 3.1% 2.8% -0.3% 4.5% -1.0% 6.3%
Jul -1.7% -1.1% -1.2% -7.1% -1.7% -1.3% -2.2%
Aug 2.3% 2.3% 2.6% 0.0% 6.6% 2.2% 1.8%
Sep 3.6% 1.9% 8.4% -1.9% 7.6% 1.8% 2.8%
Oct -2.1% 2.3% 1.4% -4.8% -1.9% 1.3% -1.1%
QSR: Quick Service Restaurant, FSR* Family Style Restaurant, DR*: Dinner Restaurant
Other* including; Institutional, school meal, delivery pizza and other
Source: Foodservice Industry Research Institute
The Japanese food service industry, as broadly defined, has six major segments. Among the five
traditional food service establishments, in 2011, the largest sector was Restaurants (42.3% of the market
and valued at $152.6 billion), followed by Drinking Establishments (16.3% valued at $58.9 billion),
Institutional Food Service (11.4 % valued at $41 billion), Hotels (9.0% and valued at $32.5 billion), and
Transportation Related Food Service (0.8% valued at $2.9 billion).
A sixth, separate category that has increasingly grown in importance in Japan is “Prepared Meals Sold
at Retail Stores” such as convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores. These foods are
ready-to eat, Home Meal Replacement (HMR) type products (obento lunch boxes at the office are one
example) and are classified by the Japan Food Service Association within the Food Service Sector. The
value of the “Prepared Meals sold at Retail Stores” sector in 2011 was $72.5 billion, accounting for 20.1
% of the total Japanese food service industry. It increased by 1.6 % in sales from the previous year and
is estimated that 13 percent of all meals in Japan are prepared meals sold at retail stores.
Chart 5: Japan food Service Industry by Sector
Source: Foodservice Industry Research Institute
The growth in HMR is driven by two demographic sectors: the elderly and young single professionals.
Japan’s population is aging faster than any in the world, and many elderly do not have the ability to
drive or travel far to grocery shop. As a result, many get their daily meals from the local “conbini” or
convenience stores, such as 7-11, Lawsons, or Family Mart. Likewise, young professional who live
alone or with roommates often don’t cook and almost exclusively eat outside food. This may explain
why according to the OECD, a low proportion of Japanese (46%) participate in cooking and cleaning up
afterwards, the second lowest in the OECD and much below the OECD average of 64% participation.
However, those Japanese who cook do a considerable amount of it, cooking for 1 hour 39 minutes per
day, the fourth highest in the OECD after Mexico, Turkey and Portugal and well above the OECD
average of 1 hour 24 minutes.
This HRI industry was overwhelmed twice in last five years. The 1st major influence was the world
market melt-down in 2008, and the 2nd impact was the Great Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11,
2011. The office meal delivery sector of institutional and HMR sector of prepared meals were the only
two sub-sectors that didn’t decrease in 2011.
Chart 6: Japan HRI Market by Sector by Year
Sector 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 '10 to '11 Share
Unit ¥ Tri. ¥ Tri. ¥ Tri. ¥ Tri. ¥ Tri. $ Bil. % %
Restaurants 12.48 12.85 12.61 12.50 12.20 152.56 -2.4% 42.4
Hotels 3.13 3.07 2.76 2.70 2.60 32.51 -3.7% 9.0
Institutional 3.62 3.36 3.28 3.28 3.28 41.02 0.0% 11.4
Drinking Establishments 5.22 4.99 4.76 4.73 4.71 58.90 -0.4% 16.4
Transportation 0.25 0.26 0.25 0.25 0.23 2.88 -8.0% 0.8
Prepared Meals 5.64 5.54 5.57 5.69 5.78 72.26 1.6% 20.1
Total 30.34 30.07 29.2282 29.15 28.80 360.12 -1.2% 100.0
Source: Foodservice Industry Research Institute
The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami disaster weakened dining out sales more than the industry
expected. QSR sales were particularly affected as convenience stores added to their meal selection.
The key factors affecting the food service industry can be summarized as follows;
A series of worldwide economic crises have chipped away discretionary spending on both
business meals and consumer’s eat out.
A strong yen has been slowing down Japanese economy and export business. Many Japanese
industries rely heavily on exports.
Food service industry rationalization by chain restaurants, hotels and food suppliers. The
industry has been pursuing mergers and acquisitions that improved industry structure and reduce
Increased opening of new outlets by new restaurant chains and up-scale hotels and the creation
of an attractive new style food business, high in value and quality.
Redevelopment projects have been active in Tokyo metropolitan area. New pub restaurants and
sophisticated casual restaurants are being introduced when older buildings are demolished and
replaced by newer buildings. These new restaurants are more likely to target women and
affluent young people, who are willing and able to pay for higher quality menus.
The trend to identify popular restaurants. TV programs target specific restaurants and have
introduced tasty and high value restaurants, both five star class restaurants and casual style
restaurants in both metropolitan area and local region. At the same time, TV programs promote
home-grown agricultural products as high-end food products.
A new food trend, B-class gourmet, features regional restaurants serving localized menus.
Japanese consumers now tend to show tolerance with imported food including imported food
from China after the nuclear accident in Fukushima in 2011. This may be a result of some
concerns with domestic foods and radiation.
The Japanese food service sector has traditionally been very receptive to the use of imported food
products. This is due partly to the fact that;
Imported food products are often less expensive than their domestic counterparts.
The food service industry does not require unique specifications for food packages as does the
The food service sector often incorporates new food concepts from abroad, which makes it more
receptive to importing items used in the menu.
C. Value of Total Imported Food vs. Domestic Products
According to the statistics of the Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forest (MAFF),
domestically produced Agricultural and marine products accounted total of ¥9.6 trillion ($109.1) which
is equivalent of 39% in calorie terms and 66% in value terms of all food consumed in Japan in 2010. In
2011, Japan imported $88.02 billion in agricultural and marine products.
While it is difficult to say exactly what percentage of imported food vs. domestic food is used for the
food service sector as a whole, it is estimated that well over half of all food service menu items involve
imported food stuffs in one form or another. Imported items such as beef, pork, shrimp, salmon, wine,
cheese, frozen vegetables, frozen potatoes and the like are heavily used by the food service sector.
Japan imported a total of $88 billion agricultural and marine products in 2011, increasing 13.3% over
the previous year. The total value of food and agricultural imports from the Unites States increased by
21.6% to a 23.5 % share in 2011. This overall growth is somewhat due to the disaster, and demonstrates
that Japan has more potential for food imports than previous statistics showed. (See Chart 7)
Chart 7: Japan Food and Agricultural Import Total by Country
United States Dollars, million % Share % Change
2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011 2011/2010
World 59,106 65,694 81,057 100.00 100.00 100.00 23.39
United States 14,810 15,640 19,009 25.06 23.81 23.45 21.55
China 7,347 8,570 10,103 12.43 13.04 12.46 17.90
Australia 3,898 4,316 5,025 6.59 6.57 6.20 16.42
Canada 3,500 3,905 4,941 5.92 5.94 6.10 26.51
Thailand 3,365 3,741 4,841 5.69 5.69 5.97 29.40
Brazil 1,996 2,607 3,687 3.38 3.97 4.55 41.43
Netherlands 1,692 1,840 2,803 2.86 2.80 3.46 52.37
Korea South 1,533 1,799 2,241 2.59 2.74 2.77 24.58
Chile 1,547 1,657 2,160 2.62 2.52 2.67 30.38
France 1,512 1,591 1,820 2.56 2.42 2.25 14.39
Source: Global Trade Atlas (HS Code 02 through 24, except 13 and 14)
The strong yen exchange rate and increasing domestic food price of the last few years have driven up
food imports from foreign countries to Japan. In particular, dairy products from the U.S. to Japan
increased by 57 percent in quantity in 2011 from the previous year. Japanese importers have shifted
sourcing natural cheese from Oceania countries to the U.S. due to favorable exchange rates, importing
shredded cheese mainly used for food service sectors (i.e. pizza and Italian style restaurants). U.S.
exports of red meats, chicken, fresh vegetables, and tree nuts to Japan experienced the double digit
increases in 2011 over 2010.
Certain segments continue to do better than others, in particular, French and Italian style restaurants,
U.S. branded restaurants which serve a higher quality food and atmosphere than ordinary quick service
restaurants (QSRs). The QSRs which attracted consumers with low menu prices are struggling due to
pressure from the high cost of ingredients. Korean and Chinese style restaurants have decreased sales
with diminished number of tourists from South Korea and China due to recent territorial disputes
between Japan and these two countries.
Many industry experts predict the Japanese food service sector will be back on the track to recovery in
2012. QSR and streamlined family style restaurant chains continue to lead the industry. Hotel
restaurants, new concept casual dining, and ethnic food restaurants are expanding as a result of
consumer demand. Catering, including home meal replacement, and institutional meal businesses are
also expected to grow due to a deflationary environment which will cause most individuals to tighten
their budget when it comes to dining out. After several years out of the market, “Cinnabon” has just
returned to Japan. McDonald’s proves new business style including expansion of delivery service and
reopening with snazzy café style atmosphere.
D. Advantages and Challenges
The industry increasingly offers international cuisines throughout the market place and competition is
intense. The sophisticated Japanese consumer generally demands high quality food products in their
meals and U.S. suppliers are well positioned to compete in many product categories provided they are
willing to adjust to changing market demands.
On the other hand, limited U.S. beef imports continue to affect the food service industry in Japan. The
Government of Japan has allowed imports of cattle aged 20 months or less since December 2005. This
age restriction is still in place at the time this report was written, and will likely limit the supply to U.S.
beef in the food industry as a whole, and particularly in the food service industry.
Nonetheless, U.S. beef imports to Japan increased from 105,000 metric tons (MT) in 2010 to 120,600
MT in 2011, an increase of about 32% in quantity. However, 120,600 tons is still less than a half of the
total imports in 2002 before BSE was detected in the United States. As a result of U.S. Meat Export
Federation and FAS Japan’s marketing efforts, a greater number of major city hotels and family style
restaurants are currently serving U.S. beef.
When and if U.S. beef export restrictions are relaxed, we expect that U.S. beef exports will quickly
approach pre-2002 levels as Japan’s restaurant and institutional industry is the most supportive business
community for U.S. beef in the market.
Chart 8: Japan Beef Import by Country
Rank Quantity (M. ton) % Share % Change
# 2010 2011 2012 2010 2011 2012 2012/2011
World 491,198 532,708 540,125 100.00 100.00 100.00 1.39
1 Australia 349,385 346,451 336,146 71.13 65.04 62.23 - 2.97
2 United States 82,222 119,569 135,691 16.74 22.45 25.12 13.48
3 New Zealand 31,734 30,470 31,932 6.46 5.72 5.91 4.80
4 Mexico 10,549 18,007 20,007 2.15 3.38 3.70 11.11
5 Canada 11,251 11,744 12,050 2.29 2.20 2.23 2.60
Year Ending: November 2011 – October 2012
Source: Global Trade Atlas (HS Code 020110 through 020230, 020610 through 020629, and 021020)
Food service operators are also dealing with the escalating domestic rice prices that thins profit
margins. The industry appears to be more accepting of imported rice usage, a situation that expands
opportunities for U.S. rice in the market.
A brief summary of the advantages and the challenges for U.S. food exporters targeting the Japanese
food service sector appears below:
Chart 9: Advantages and Challenges
The success of U.S. fast food and restaurants Many consumers view American food culture
chain concepts helps introduce American style as less attractive than European or Japanese
food inputs into the general diet. counterparts.
U.S. food producers have a positive image for Most imported food products are viewed by
safety compared to many Asian competitors, some consumers as less safe than
especially among the trade. domestically, except Fukushima region,
produced Japanese food products.
The U.S. has a reputation and history as The quality and reliability of Asian exporting
reliable supplier of food (both availability and countries has been growing as the
delivery) at reasonable price. distribution infrastructure and quality
assurance (QA) procedures have improved.
The United States has a wide variety of food Japanese buyers are sourcing from all over
products, including fresh & further processed. the world rather than from only a few
High Japanese farming costs and a weak dollar The perception of U.S. price competitiveness
make imported food products attractive. and quality has declined vis-à-vis other
After the Fukushima nuclear power plant Japanese government policies relating to
accident in 2011, the United States is food safety pose increasing impediments to
recognized as a source of advanced food trade, such as a strict Maximum Residue
processing and food safety assurance Level (Positive List), BSE standards and
technology including sustainability and organic stringent labeling requirements.
II. Road Map for Market Entry
A. Entry Strategy
There are no magic formulas for new–to-market exporters to enter the Japanese food service market.
Strategies will vary depending on the type of food product being introduced and the current competitive
environment. However, there are some basic procedures that new-to-market exporters are
recommended to follow when considering the Japanese food service market for the first time.
1. Market Access
One of the fundamental first steps is to determine the market access for your products. In particular this
Determine if your product category can currently be imported into Japan. Due to food safety
concerns the Japanese government has become increasingly strict in allowing food products into
Determine the import classification and tariff rate for your product. Some product categories
such as those containing rice and dairy products are still highly protected by the Japanese
government and face either prohibitively high tariff or quota barriers. Its is important to know in
advance if this is the case to prevent time and energy being dedicated to products that will not
ultimately be price competitive. Freight forwarders and traders can be helpful in determining
into what category your product falls.
Determine whether your product meets Japanese regulations for food ingredients. If the product
contains prohibited ingredients it will have to be reformulated before it can be imported into
Japan. In some cases this may be difficult for U.S. exporters due to volume constraints or
because the ingredients is a key element of the formulation. By ascertaining this in advance,
U.S. exporters can save themselves much frustration later if it is difficult to reformulate.
Sources for this information include:
http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Pages/Default.aspx, set your search to select “Country: Japan”, and
Freight forwarders can also be helpful in determining ingredient acceptability.
2. Competitive Analysis
Once it is established that the product can be physically exported into Japan it is important to establish
whether the product will be accepted from a competitive standpoint. This entails doing at least a
preliminary analysis of the market to determine:
What is the size of the opportunity for the type of product?
Who are the key customer targets for the products?
What is the current pricing of similar types of products?
Can the product be cost effectively introduced?
What are the key points of differentiation for the product compared to others?
In what form and what kind of packaging is the competitor’s product sold? Will customers
expect the same?
To do this analysis it is helpful to take some combination of the following steps:
Visit Japan to research in person the customers your type of product is sold to and see how the
product is marketed.
Utilize resources such as U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service and the local U.S. Agricultural Trade
Office (ATO), State Regional Trade Groups (SRTG’s) to obtain information about the market
relevant to you product.
Talk with freight forwarders and Japanese importers that handle your category of products.
If possible, meet with potential customers to determine the kinds of needs they have and their
current sources for your products.
3. Comparative Advantage of the products
To succeed in entering the Japanese market, it will be important to define the comparative advantage of
your products versus the competition. Potential customers in Japan will have to perceive merit in using
your products. The most common merits are:
Offering price savings that will encourage the customer to give your product a trial.
Offering a product or form of product that is new to the Japanese market. Every year there are
new items that become popular in Japan that newly introduced unique foods. Recent examples
include gourmet hamburgers, craft beers, fresh baked pretzel, smoothies, varietal honey, and
sparkling wines, to name a few.
Offering a more convenient form of the product that makes it easier for food service operators to
use. This may include a smaller package and a new technology for packaging that make the
product easier to prepare or a new form of the product that offers advantages in terms of labor
cost, preparation time or efficiency.
Offering a high quality product. Food service operators are always interested in products that
offer better quality in one form or another. For example, it may be that your product has a
demonstrably better track record than competitors on safety issues. These points of difference
are worth promoting.
4. Receptivity of the Distribution Trade
It is important for new-to-market exporters to understand how the distribution system works and to
identify potential partners or distributors. Such partners or distributors can offer invaluable advice on
issues related to the product, its positioning, packaging, labeling, and custom clearance procedures.
There are numerous ways to identify these partners. Some suggestions include:
Ask the ATO and co-operator groups research market potential for your category of products.
Attend trade shows such as Foodex, Super Market Trade Show and Food Service Industry Show
to meet potential partners and obtain leads.
If visiting Japan, discuss potential importers and distributors with freight forwarders, and if
meeting any customers, enquire as to their preferred distribution channel. Many times customers
will have their own preferred channels which they use for imported products.
It is important to obtain a reliable on-site partner or importer if you expect to do long term business in
Japan and you do not plan to have your own in-country office. Some things to look for include:
Does the partner/importer represent other imported products?
Do they have a favorable reputation and financial background in the marketplace?
Do they have the capability of communicating daily with you in English?
Do they have an understanding of import procedures for your type of food product?
5. Ability of Willingness to Meet Market Requirements
To be successful, it is very important for the new-to-market exporter to be willing to make changes to
the product if necessary to meet market expectations in terms of service, quality, and price. This
process working with Japanese clients will also polish your products quality and increase marketing
competitiveness. Some basic suggestions include:
Make sure you are willing to re-formulate the product if necessary to meet relevant Japanese
Food Sanitation Laws and Regulations.
Be willing to adjust the product or packaging to meet Japanese taste profiles and market
expectations. For example, many Japanese operators prefer smaller package sizes due to lack of
space to store items.
Provide samples on a timely basis, but only upon request of a client/importer.
Ensure that all documentation necessary to clear customs and quarantine procedures is provided
in proper form. Japanese customs always request clarify food ingredients and processing outline
to define import tariff rate.
Reply to requests for information in a timely manner, within at least 48 hours, preferably less.
Work closely with your partner or importer to prepare sales materials in Japanese.
Be patient. Most Japanese food service operators will start with only a small order in order to
test the potential supplier. This is especially true for new-to-market suppliers where the risk of
something going wrong (clearing customs, wrong documentation, wrong labeling, etc.) is the
Japanese food service operators are looking for suppliers who can provide consistent high
quality product without defects or foreign materials, and who are reliable partners in terms of
both delivery and safety issues. To help cement relations, it is strongly recommended to have
face-to-face meetings at least once per year with your customers.
B. Market Structure
Most imported food products still pass through trading companies. The large general trading companies
such as Mitsubishi, Itochu and Mitsui have many divisions specializing in a wide variety of imported
food products, while small importers tend to specialize in a limited line of high value-added items.
Trading companies function as legal importers of the products and serve a variety of functions including
clearing customs, handling documentation, product testing, warehousing the product, and financing the
inventory. In the past, trading companies would normally sell the product to first line wholesalers who
in turn would sell to secondary wholesalers and even to third line distributors before the product finally
reached the food service operator.
This pattern has changed in the past decade, particularly for chain food service customers who have
substantial buying power. In order to reduce food costs, most large food service operators now take
possession of the product or use designated distribution centers rather than use wholesalers. In addition,
more food service operators import product directly, but the majority still use trading companies. One
unique aspect of Japanese food distribution, even though food service operators developed import
products directly, they contact out supply chain operation including import procedure, inventory and
delivery to venders. This is a growing trend toward outsourcing after the venders could streamline their
The deflationary environment of the past several years has intensified price competition among food
service chains, and has accelerated the trend to eliminate middlemen.
In order to survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace, wholesalers are being forced to
consolidate. Smaller wholesalers are either disappearing or being bought by larger ones. In order to
add value, most large wholesalers own their own distribution trucks. Wholesalers now focus on carrying
broad product lines that can efficiently service small food service operators or small chains with one-
stop service. Some wholesalers are now also beginning to import products directly to reduce costs
Meanwhile, a written food safety assurance is now the standard in Japan. Food venders, not
manufactures, are responsible for food safety even if they just deliver food products. Food suppliers are
required to provide affidavit like assurance to chain restaurants. This causes food service operators to
use several distributors in Japan to hedge risks.
The Cash & Carry trade, including wholesale clubs such as COSTCO and METRO are becoming
popular as resource of food products among Japan’s smaller size food service operators in order to
reduce food costs. The biggest is Gyomu Super (Business Supermarket), which has a total of 600
outlets throughout Japan. Additionally, regional food wholesalers have formed a strategic purchasing
alliance and have opened cash & carry outlets in the region. These local outlets substitute historical
food vendors for food service operators. Bulk packed meat, seafood, fresh produce, coffee,
seasonings/condiments, wine, cheese, frozen vegetables and frozen bakeries are hot selling food
products at these outlets.
See Appendix Chart 1: A diagram of the flow of product from the U.S. exporter
A discussion of some of the key trends in the HRI industry that U.S. exporters should be aware of:
i. Price Competition
Consumers continued to tighten their belts. Saizeriya, the biggest Italian cuisine-family style restaurant
with about 1020 outlets, introduced authentic Italian cuisine at reasonable prices. For instance, a 500
milliliter carafe of wine is sold at ¥370 ($4.50) and a bowl of cheese risotto with meat sauce is sold at
¥299 ($3.60). Saizeriya increased sales by 4.4% in 2011 and has become very popular company in the
In order to compete in the market, many other fast food and family restaurants took a similar approach
by introducing low cost menus. However, the major beef bowl chains Yoshinoya, Zensho (“Sukiya”
brand operator) and Matsuya, had competed by offering lower menu prices, have been outflanked by
convenience stores’ mixed HMR merchandising.
ii. Convenience Store Gain Power as Food Service Operator
Convenience stores (CVS) keep evolving on food merchandising and became the biggest rivals for
Japan’s beef-bowl chains. Like beef-bowl restaurants, convenience stores used to heavily rely on male
customers. But over the years, they have succeeded in appealing to other customer segments, sucha s
seniors and women, by offering meals in smaller portions and expanding their dessert lineups which
customers can buy with their main meal at same store.
A variety of sweets, cakes, puddings and Japanese sweets, at a major
convenience store, Seven-Eleven
iii. New Tastes from America
The variety of menus available in Japan continues to expand. Partly due to the large number of
Japanese traveling abroad every year, foods from Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas are
becoming increasingly popular. Japanese consumers are interested in trying new cuisines. Examples
of this include Wetzel’s Pretzel, and Bubby’s New York, which have successfully launched new
business formats in Japan. Cinnabon also came back to Japan in November 2012 from several year’s
absence. The interest in new food ideas opens the door to food exporters to introduce new concepts in
to the Japanese market.
Ambassador John V. Roos was the guest of honor at the Grand Tokyo The first Wetzel’s Pretzel shop in Tokyo,
Opening of Cinnabon in November, 2012. Cinnabon returns to Tokyo Japan
after an absence of about four years.
iv. Willing to Pay More for Healthy Eating at Breakfast Restaurants
Japanese consumers are increasingly interested in foods that are perceived as healthy. This trend takes a
variety of forms. For example, family restaurant chains are including nutritional information on the
menu, such as allergen content and calories per serving. Fast food restaurants and casual style
restaurants strengthen breakfast menus and are introducing small size fruit-rich menus, such as cup
salad and pancakes with fruits. MOS Burger offers burgers featuring in-season vegetables.
Mos Burger’s Vegetable Burger comes with flied Restaurant Bills and a line of people waiting for breakfast at an
vegetables (carrots and gobo/burdock roots) atmosphere with unconventional living, the restaurant is located in
and rice buns front of Shonan beach.
In addition, breakfast specialized restaurants have gained popularity. The consumers are willing to pay
more for a quality breakfast. You often see long queues people waiting in front of refreshing charm
restaurants, Bills from Australia, eggs and things from Hawaii, and newly joined Sarabeth’s Kitchen
from New York. These are the restaurants recently have opened in Tokyo and adjacent cities where
have environments as urban resort, and offer sophisticated authentic western style breakfast featuring
their original ingredients from the region.
U.S. exporters that have products that fit into the “healthy” category will have opportunities as this
v. Seniors Hold Key to Spending Growth
Japan’s elderly population accounts for an expanding share of total consumer spending. According to
Japanese news reports, households headed by people 60 or older spent more than 100 trillion yen in
2011, or about 40% of total consumer outlays. But this is a highly stratified consumer group marked by
a small number of wealthy, but frugal, consumers.
In an effort to attract customers in this group, many food operators have introduced delivery service.
McDonald’s is planning a home-delivery service in order to reach seniors and consumers who eat at
home. Many chain restaurants, such as Yoshinoya, Royal Host, and others have renovated their
restaurants to include bigger spaces, a number of big sofas or cotton-candy machines which cater to
three generation families to enjoy the food and atmosphere. Seniors’ wallets tightly sealed but can be
loosen for their grand children.
Steak Restaurant Ken, family style restaurant chain, offers events A restaurant offering three generation families to
for children come with family to experience working at the make soba noodles together
vi. Information Technology (IT) and B-class Gourmet
The IT evolution and prevalence of smart phones provide a dynamic to the local food service industry.
One new trend is affectionately called “B-kyu-gurume (B-class gourmet)”. Japanese food service
operators are striving to introduce new ideas and formats using these local food flavors or
combinations. B-Class Gourmet is a new buzzword throughout Japan, meaning cheap, local food,
served in local restaurants. Most of menus are everyday home meals, such as fried/soup noodles, deep
fried cutlets, and sweets. B-class gourmet establishments have banded together and conduct Japan-wide
events that vie with each other for the best B-class gourmet dish.
The National B-Kyu Gourmet Contest winner, Fujinomiya Yakisoba
(fried noodle) has uniquer texture than other fried noodles
vii. Theme Park Restaurants
While overall Japanese consumer spening remains weak, the sales into leisure activities have been solid
in 2012. Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disney Resort saw the number of visitors in the
April-September period hit a first-half record of 13.25 million, an increase of about 400,000 due to new
attraction openings and special seasonal events.
Major theme parks in Japan feature U.S. history and culture including Tokyo Disney Land, Tokyo
Disney Sea, and Universal Studios Japan in Osaka). Restaurants located in these theme parks often
focus on foods from abroad and offer opportunities for U.S. exporters to test their products. The Disney
Resort will celebrate its 30th anniversary in Tokyo in 2013 which may create a good new-to-market
opportunity for U.S. food products.
Tokyo Sky Tree town is composed of the tallest 634 meter tower,
shopping and restaurant complex, an aquarium and office spaces. The
town recognized as the city’s new landmark
Meantime, Tokyo’s brand-new broadcasting tower “Skytree” is recognized as a new theme park with
the “Solamachi” (Sky-town) shopping facility at the bottom of tower. Since its doors open on May 22,
2012, the entire Tokyo Skytree Town complex had hosted about 21 million visitors as of September 30,
2012. The Beer Pub – World Beer Museum, features U.S. craft and thirdf country beers, recordeing the
highest sales in the shopping complex in this summer.
Food buyers there are always looking for original and unique new products associated with the United
States (for example, smoked turkey drumsticks and caramel popcorn are two popular items at
viii. HMR Prepared Foods
The area of sharpest growth in the food industry has been ready-to-eat products that can be purchased at
retail shops. For example, many consumers purchase take-out lunches at convenience stores or similar
retail shops that can be eaten quickly at the office or elsewhere. Vendors of these foods have steadily
increased the freshness, quality, and variety of the foods they offer, providing a more attractive menu
selection to consumers. U.S. exporters that provide the kinds of products that would fit lunchbox-type
or HMR items should consider approaching assemblers of these types of foods.
Nippon Restaurant Enterprise’s, SeikoMart, Hokkaido based major Ito-Yokado’s mixed lunch box sold
beautifully setout lunch boxes. An convenience store chain, with 1146 at JPY 399 ($4.98) good for big
idea of authentic Japanese home meal outlets offers “Hot Chef” which cooks appetite consumers. This kind of
and good for vegetarian, retail price lunch boxes in its stores and serves at reasonable price lunch boxes
at JPY1,155 (US$14.43). This bento fresh/hot temperature. Picture - pork became poplar and attracted
box is available at both Train station cutlet and egg on top of rice at consumers away from QSR industry
KIOSK and catering JPY550 ($6.88)
Seasonable and special lunch box development is common in the industry for special occasions.
Frequent menu changes can become both an opportunity and constraint for imported food products.
ix. Food Safety
The importance of food safety has risen continuously in consumers’ minds over the past decade due to a
series of highly visible food scares and scandals. In particular, radioactive cesium exceeding the
government-set permissible limit was detected in local dairy cows, beef, rice, and many leafy vegetables
in Fukushima prefecture (and adjacent prefectures) after the nuclear accident in Fukushima. In addition,
there have been a number of recent cases where domestic food service operators were responsible for
food poisoning events.
As a result of these incidents, food service operators have become much more stringent in demanding
strict procedures and systems for food safety from their suppliers. This includes detailed documentation
from suppliers regarding QA systems and procedures at the production site, documentation relating to
all ingredients used by the supplier including country of origin, and certification that the products
adhere to Japanese regulatory requirements. Many chain operators will not consider buying from a new
supplier until all the documentation is provided and an on-site inspection of the production facilities is
conducted to verify the standards of the supplier.
In addition, food service operators have become much more demanding regarding quick and accurate
responses to any product quality complaints to ensure steps are taken to prevent reoccurrence. Suppliers
who do not measure up to the expectations of the food service operators for food safety are often
replaced. We highly recommend having a quick response procedure in place to address food safety or
product quality complaints to ensure a minimized disruption to trade.
The first GMO Hawaiian papaya was launched and sold in Japan in December 2011 after a decade-long
negotiation between the Japanese government and the U.S. government. This is significant as it is the
first direct to consumer GMO product to be sold in Japan. The road to acceptance will be long, but
eventually, we believe that GMO foods will enjoy a certain amount of acceptance. However, at this
time, most food service operators in Japan normally require GMO free food products from suppliers and
most Japanese consumers do not accept the concept of GMO products.
See GAIN report JA2520.
C. Sub Sector Profiles
A detailed discussion of the various sub-sectors of the HRI food service industry follow.
1. Restaurant Sector
The restaurant sector is the largest of the HRI food service segments. Restaurant sales in 2010 were
¥12.7 trillion equivalent to $144.2 billion. This represents 43.2% of total food service industry sales.
The restaurant sector includes a wide variety of operators, ranging from American-style fast food chains
to more traditional family owned single outlet restaurants.
The restaurant sector is divided four major sub-segments. A chart diagramming this segmentation
Chart 10: Japanese Restaurant Sector - 2011
General Restaurants ¥8.6 Trillion
(69.9%) ($106.9 Billion)
1.3 Trillion ($16.1
Re s Sushi Shops (10.5%)
taurant Sector ¥12.2 Billion)
Trill. ($153 Bill.)
Noodl 13.3 e Shops (8.7%) ¥1.1 Trillion ($ Billion)
Other (10.9%) ¥1.1 Trillion ($16.6 Billion)
Source: Food Service Industry Research Institution
2. General Restaurants
General restaurants used to be categorized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI) into
five categories: non-specialized restaurants, Japanese restaurants, Western Restaurants, Chinese
Restaurants, and Meat/Other Asian until 2006. In 2009, the latest available census year, METI
combined Western cuisine and other ethnic cuisine together as “other specialized” restaurants. The
largest numbers of outlets are non-specialized restaurants, followed by specialized, Chinese and
Chart 11: Number of Restaurant Outlets by Type of General Restaurant
Type of Restaurants 2004 2006 2009* Change '06 to '09
Non-Specialized 73,628 73,298 63,427 -13.5%
Specialized: Western, Other Ethnic Cuisine & Meat 57,034 60,394 61,913 2.5%
Chinese 60,930 59,552 56,541 -5.1%
Japanese 41,963 42,572 50,763 19.2%
Total 233,555 235,816 232,644 -1.3%
Source: Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry
ATO Japan has pursued newer statistics for this part, and obtained statistics published from a private
research company which categorize a restaurant segment to five different categories to 1) Family Style
Restaurant, 2) Western Style Restaurants including French, Italian and American, 3) Japanese Style
Restaurants including noodle shops, sushi bars and almost of other Japanese foods, 4) Oriental Cuisine
Restaurants including, Korean (barbecue), Chinese and Mongolian cuisine, and 5) Ethnic Cuisine
Restaurants including, Mexican, Indian and South-East Asian cuisines. According to this statistics,
number of outlets also shows decreasing transitions due to deflationary trend and related market
rationalization. The trends in number of outlets and sales volume see below.
Chart 12: Number of Restaurants Outlets by Type of General Restaurants
Type of Restaurants Total Number of Outlets
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 *2012
Family Style Restaurants 11,755 11,416 11,376 11,281 11,365
Western Style Restaurant 10,190 10,105 9,995 9,925 9,890
Japanese Style Restaurant 116,815 116,495 112,335 108,905 107,315
Oriental Restaurant 37,912 37,755 37,615 36,830 36,780
Ethnic Restaurant 1,870 1,855 1,830 1,825 1,825
Total 178,542 177,626 173,151 168,766 167,175
Source: Fuji Keizai – Food Service Industry Marketing Handbook 2012
* 2012: Estimate
Chart 13: Sales Amount by Type of General Restaurants
Type of Restaurants Sales Amount in JP ¥ Million
Year 2008 2009 2010 2011 *2012
Family Style Restaurants 1,497.4 1,405.8 1,382.8 1,360.2 1,369.4
Western Style Restaurant 775.8 757.3 747.3 732.8 726.1
Japanese Style Restaurant 3,016.6 2,917.4 2,791.4 2,713.4 2,666.7
Oriental Restaurant 1,349.0 1,321.8 1,316.9 1,272.8 1,288.4
Ethnic Restaurant 120.4 115.8 111.2 109.4 108.5
Total 6,759.2 6,518.1 6,349.6 6,188.6 6,159.1
Source: Fuji Keizai – Food Service Industry Marketing Handbook 2012
* 2012: Estimate
The category with the greatest opportunity for most U.S. food exporters are restaurants. The trend has
been driven by diversified Western, Japanese and ethnic fusion cuisines. These restaurants are
composed of casual and family style restaurants which serve mainly Western dishes as well as
restaurants specializing in specific menus such as steak, Hamburg (meat loaf) and pizza/pasta. As a
result the menu relies heavily on imported food products to provide authenticity as well as taste. Large
family restaurants chains such as Saizeriya (Italian style), Skylark, Royal Host, Denny’s, Coco’s,
Jonathans, and Joyful, are major users of imported U.S. foods including items such as beef, pork, frozen
potatoes and vegetables.
Up-scale American-style concepts have taken hold in Japanese market in last five years, such as the
Oregon Bar & Grill, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Union Square Cafe, Lawry’s, and Wolfgang Puck
pizza. A popular sector are casual steak restaurant chains that offer free salad, side dishes and cooked
rice come with all in one main meal, steak and/or hamburg, at reasonable price ($10 to $20). This is an
example of authentic American style dishes have been modified and popularized in the industry. These
companies use imported foods on their menu extensively.
French restaurants have traditionally been popular in Japan and more recently Italian restaurants have
also surged in popularity. Mexican restaurants, which are still few in number, are slowly growing in
popularity and provide opportunities for U.S. exporters for items such as tortillas, frozen guacamole,
and related Tex-Mex foods. Food service chains that come to Japan from the U.S. are perfect targets for
U.S. exporters who also sell those food product concepts in the U.S.
3. Sushi Restaurants
Japan is famous for sushi, which is increasingly popular around the world. Japan is the world’s largest
importer of seafood products and a substantial portion ends up in sushi form. This includes tuna,
scallops, sea urchin, salmon, salmon eggs, yellow fin, crab and shrimp. Most seafood imports pass
through wholesale markets such as Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo before being delivered to sushi shops
throughout Japan. The U.S. is a major exporter of salmon, salmon eggs, and sea urchin used by sushi
The value of the sushi food service segment was estimated at ¥1.3 trillion in 2011, equal to $16.1
billion. In 2009, the most recent census year, a total of 28,865 sushi restaurants were reported,
significantly declined from the prior census (32,327 sushi restaurants in 2006).
4. Noodle Shops
Noodles, served either hot or cold, are one of the most popular foods eaten outside of the home in
Japan. Japanese noodles come in two forms. Soba, which are noodles made from buckwheat, and
Udon, noodles made from wheat.
In 2011, the value of the soba/udon food service segment was estimated at ¥1.1 trillion or $13.5 billion.
There were estimated 33,005 soba/udon shops in 2009, many of them were use to be single
proprietorship shops but chain operators have increased their number of outlets, typically at shopping
malls and roadside that have replaced from regional business to chain operation.
Noodles consumed outside of the home are frequently ranked as the most popular lunch item by
consumers because they are both quick to serve and eat, and quite inexpensive. A typical soba set will
cost only ¥300 - ¥500. It is common for the Japanese ‘salaryman’ to down a bowl of noodles within
minutes during lunch.
Opportunities for U.S. exporters are principally the ingredients used as
toppings for noodles. This includes items such as chicken products,
seasoned pork slices and sweet corn kernels. Since many noodle shops
are individual outlets rather than large chains, U.S. exporters’ strategy
for selling toppings must rely on major food service wholesalers who
supply the shops.
5. Other Restaurant Types
The Food Service Research Center categorizes a number of special food service concepts into its “All
Other” category. These include:
Fried Chicken Restaurants
Donuts and Ice Cream Shops
Curry & Rice
A brief description of those that are of particular interest to the U.S. exporter follows:
i. Hamburger Chains
The number one food service operator in Japan is McDonalds Japan, which opened in 1972 and now has
about 3,300 units nationwide. The hamburger fast food concept has been one of the most visible and
successful segments over the past 40 years. However, McDonald’s fell in its seven-year sales growth
streak, down 1.4 % to ¥535.1 billion in 2011 as the company closed number of loss making stores.
Meantime, McDonald Japan succeeded in attracting customers by increasing the number of new type
outlets that have up-scale eat-in counters, and kept continuous growth on a same store basis in sales in
2011. A list of the top five hamburger chains includes:
Chart 14: Major Hamburger Chains
Humburger Chains Number of Outlets
Name of Company 2011 2012 % Change from 2011
McDonald’s Japan 3,302 3,298 -0.1
Mos Foods 1,391 1,411 1.4
Lotteria 465 453 -2.6
Freshness Burger 178 168 -5.6
First Kitchen 130 130 0.0
Source: Fuji Keizai – Food Service Industry Marketing Handbook 2012
By providing reasonably priced, fast and clean service, the hamburger chain concept has captured a
significant share of the youth and family dining out budget.
Because the hamburger chain menu uses concepts originating in the U.S., they are ideal targets for U.S.
exporters. For example, McDonald’s Japan has long imported many of its food items from the U.S.
including frozen potatoes, pork patties, fresh tomato, and cut lettuce. Hamburger chain sales declined in
2003 as a result of BSE concerns in Japan but are steadily returning to better than previous levels.
ii. Pizza Chains
The pizza industry has been lead by delivery service companies and has been a bright spot of growth in
Japan over the past decade. Fuelled by the launch of Domino’s Pizza in the late 1980’s, pizza delivery
chains have successfully carved out a niche in the food service market in Japan with their promise of
rapid delivery. A partial list of some of the top pizza chains includes:
Chart 15: Major Pizza Chains
Pizza Restaurants (delivery) Number of Outlets
Name of Company 2011 2012 % Increase from 2011
Pizza La (Four Seeds Corp.) 542 544 0.4
Pizza Hut (Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan) 359 365 1.7
Dominos 205 225 9.8
Strawberry Cones 203 210 3.4
Chicago Pizza Factory 108 112 3.7
Pizza California (PCS Inc.) 99 100 1.0
Source: Fuji Keizai – Food Service Industry Marketing Handbook 2012
Pizza shops offer a wide variety of choices, many tailored specifically to Japan. In addition to
traditional toppings such as pepperoni and sausage, pizzas in Japan feature toppings such as shrimp,
squid, scallop, prosciutto, corn, garlic, potatoes and pineapple. Pizza industry has driven a shift of
shredded cheese supply from Oceania region to the U.S. due to better value of U.S. products. In
addition to sourcing toppings from abroad, pizza chains also source tomato sauce either in chunked
and/or pasted from abroad.
iii. Fried Chicken Chains
KFC Japan dominates the fried chicken restaurant market with over 1,520 units nationwide. KFC
Japan’s has changed policy from promoting domestic Japanese chicken to diversify food products
resource abroad a few years ago, the opportunities for U.S. exporters were increased as non-chicken
menu items such as fried potatoes and corn kernels for salad have expanded.
6. Drinking Establishments
The drinking establishment sector had sales worth ¥4.7 trillion in 2011, equivalent to $58.9 billion.
This represented 16.3% of the total food service industry sales. The sector is comprised of four
segments: pub dining (Izakaya)/beer pub, coffee/tea house, high end Japanese restaurants (Ryotei) and
bar/nightclub food service.
Chart 16: Japan’s Drinking Establishments Sector
Sector 2007 2008 2009 2010 2012 Change '10 to '11
Unit ¥ Bil. ¥ Bil. ¥ Bil. ¥ Bil. ¥ Bil. $ Bil. %
Total 5,216 4,988 4,756 4,666 4,707 58.9 0.88%
Pub Dining 1,101 1,061 1,012 995 994 12.4 -0.14%
Coffee/Tea Shop 1,057 1,036 1,005 1,011 1,018 12.7 0.71%
Roytei 366 346 328 318 322 4.0 1.32%
Night Club 2,692 2,546 2,412 2,343 2,373 29.7 1.28%
Source: Food Service Industry Research Institute
i. Pub Dining
Pub dining restaurants (Izakaya) are Japan’s unique drinking pubs where a variety of home-style meals
are served with various kinds of alcohol beverages including beer, sake, Shochu (Japanese white sprits),
wine and cocktails. The market share of chain operations have increased more than individually-owned
businesses since 2008. The industry has rationalized its procurement and distribution system due to
competition within the sector. Most of chain restaurants use imported food products and beverages in
moderation while using regional food products that are popular among consumers.
At pub dining restaurants, consumers order various cooked meals and side dishes together at the same
table and share these dishes with colleagues, friends and family. Chain operations are popular because
of their reasonable menu pricing and range in food items. Pub dining chain restaurants usually have
central buying systems and are looking for new menu ideas. Pub dining operators also modify overseas
recipes for their own style and taste. The industry uses fresh oyster, frozen vegetables, canned tomato
sauce, canned olive oil, and further processed foods, such as frozen soups, and frozen seasoned pork and
beef that are imported from the United States.
A list of major pub dining chains and Coffee/Tea Room Chains in Japan appears below:
Chart 17: Major Pub Dining chains
Rank Sales ($
Company d Name, # of Outlets Location Purchasing Agents
2011 Mil.) Bran
1 Monteroza 1,844.8 Sirokiya, Uotami, Wa Nation ra-wara, 1,890 w Wholesalers ide
Watami Food Nation Trade firms,
2 964.7 Watami, 636
Serivce wide wholesalers
3 Daisho 919.2 Shoya, 795 Wholesalers
Colowaide East Eastern Trade firms,
4 749.6 Amata-ro, Hokkaido, Hiikiya, 529
Japan Japan wholesalers
5 Chimney 663.9 Trade firms, wholeslers
Kodawariyama, 566 Japan
Eastern Trade firms,
6 Dynac 408.6 Hibiki/Toridori, Sakura, Unoya, 247
N Trade firms, ation
7 Yoro-no-taki 386.1 Yoro-no-taki, 726 w wholeslers, Direct ide
8 Marche 304.5 Suikoden/H Nation Trade firms, akkenden, 627 wide wholesalers
Sanko Toho Kenbunroku, Tsuki no Eastern Trade firms,
9 Ma 303.9 rketing Food shizuku, Kin no Kura, 172 Japan wholesalers
Ginza Lion, Kakoiya, Agura, Ten, Eastern Trade firms,
10 Sapporo Lion 302.6
193 Japan wholesalers
Source: Nikkei Marketing Journal, May 2012
ii. Coffee/Tea Shops
The coffee/tea shop sector is very popular throughout Japan. The sector is grouped into two subsectors,
one is a new style self-service coffee/tea shops that are mainly located in major cities and another is
conventional style full service coffee/tea rooms that tend to be regional. Total coffee/tea shop sales
have shown a downward trend. However, the category of new style coffee shops has increased in sales
and number of outlets from ¥294,9 billion and 3,860 outlets in 2007 to ¥320.3 billion and 4,270 outlets
(estimates) in 2012. Most of these American style self-service coffee shops serve western style side
dishes and finger foods, such as wrap sandwich, cookies, muffins and bagels that have been imported
from the United States and other foreign countries.
Meanwhile, the traditional coffee/tea shops have decreased in both sales and number of outlets from
¥1,049.5 billion and 72,000 outlets in 2007 to ¥958.5 billion and 66,950 outlets (estimates) in 2012.
Most of them do not have a central buying system and buy food products including coffee beans from
wholesalers and/or cash & carry stores.
A list of major new style coffee/tea shop chains in Japan in 2011 appears below:
Chart 18: Major Coffee/Tea Room Chains
Rank Sales ($ #
Company Name (Brand) Location Purchasing Agents
2012 mil.) Units
e firms, Wholeslers, Direct
1 Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. 1,348 970 Nation wide Trad
2 Doutor Coffee Co., Ltd. 1,100 1,280 Nation wide Same as above
3 Tully's Coffee Japan 384 405 Nation wide Same as above
4 Komeda Coffee 374 460 Same as above
5 Saint Marc Café Holdings 269 300 Nation wide Same as above
6 Pront Corporation 226 220 Nation wide Same as above
7 Italian Tomato Café Jr. 163 189 Same as above
UCC Foodservice Systems Wester
8 166 383 Same as above
9 Chat Noir (Veloce) 141 183 Same as above
10 Pokka Create (Café de Crie) 91 160 Same as above
Source: Nikkei Marketing Journal, May 2012
7. Hotel Food Service Sector
The Hotel/Inn sector had food sales worth ¥2.6 trillion in 2011, equivalent to US$32.5 billion. This
represents 9.0% of the total food service industry sales.
Even though new hotel openings by upscale hotel groups such as Conrad, Peninsula, Grand Hyatt and
Ritz-Carlton boosted industry sales in 2007, the hotel food business has shown a downward trend in last
decade. Most recent statistics in 2012 showed slight sales recovery of the hotel food business in
banquet and reception business from the previous year.
First class hotels have a large variety of on-site restaurants to choose from including Western, Chinese
and Japanese restaurants. Hotels are major users of almost all kinds of foods, particularly imported
products. Because they have a large professional chef staff, hotels tend to create many dishes from
scratch rather than relying on prepared or further processed foods.
Decision making on what kinds of items to put on the menu is usually made by the executive chefs of
each hotel. Because they cater to international travelers, many major hotels regularly feature
promotions of different country’s cuisines. For the same reason, they are historically more receptive to
imported food. A list of major hotel chains in Japan in 2012 appears below:
Chart 19: Major Hotel Chains in 2012
Company (Name of Hotel) Sales $ Million # of Outlets
Seibu HD (Prince Hotel) 854.1 45
JAL Hotels (Nikko) 397.6 35
Hankyu Hanshin Dai-ichi Hotel Group 378.9 49
Hotel Okura & Resourts 371.4 16
New Otani Group 350.1 17
Rihga Royal Hotel Group 360.1 12
Tokyu Hotels 340.1 48
Marriotto International (Ritz-Carlton) 312.6 8
Imperial Hotel 308.9 3
Resort Trust (Xiv, Sun Resort) 312.6 41
Nihon Hotel 237.6 44
Source: Fuji Keizai – Food Service Industry Marketing Handbook 2012
Japan also has many small Ryokan or Traditional Japanese style inns, which primarily serve holiday
travelers. The menu tends to be limited and features traditional Japanese dishes. Ryokans are a less
inviting target for U.S. exporters due to their focus on traditional Japanese foods.
8. Institutional Food Service
The institutional food service sector had sales worth ¥3.28 trillion in 2011, equivalent to $41.1 billion.
This represented 11.4% of the total food service industry sales. Institutional food sales slightly
decreased in 2011 from the previous year. The institutional food service sector was one of the very few
sectors that showed upward trend until 2010.
The institutional food service sector is comprised of four segments: business/office cafeterias, school
lunch programs, hospitals, and welfare facilities. This might be one segment to see growth as Japan’s
aging demographic intensifies. Many food service companies are gearing up to service what is called
the “silver” market.
A new trend is food to promote health. Tanita is a
manufacturer of bathroom scales that can measure
stored body fat. The company runs a famous employee
cafeteria which has reduced most of the employees’
weight. Tanita has published a series of well known
recipe books that featured restricted total calorie and
tasty menus which have become very popular among
consumers. In response to the readers who want to
taste those menus at the cafeteria, Tanita opened a
restaurant, Tanita Shokudo, in the center of Tokyo in
January 2012. The restaurant has an image of an
employee cafeteria and is serving same menus that the company cooks for their employees.
Sales by segment in 2011 were as follows:
Chart 20: Institutional Food Service Sales by Sub-Sectors
¥ billion $ billion Share
Business/Office Cafeterias 1,713.9 19.5 7.2%
School Lunch 496.7 5.6 2.1%
Hospitals 798.0 9.1 3.4%
Welfare Facilities 267.8 3.0 1.2%
Total: 3,276.4 37.2 13.9%
Source: Food Service Industry Research Center
Chart 21: Ranking Institutional Food Service Chains
Company Name ($ mil.) # Units Location Principal Purchasing Agents
1 Nissin Healthcare Food Service Co., 2,211 4,639 Tokyo Wholesalers
2 AIM Service 1,268 1,324 Tokyo Wholesalers
3 Green House 1,045 1,672 Tokyo Wholesalers
4 Seiyo Food-Compass Group, Inc. 928 *1,750 Tokyo Wholesalers
5 Fuji-Sangyo Co., Ltd. 817 1973 Tokyo Wholesalers
6 Uokuni Sohonsha 750 2,550 Osaka Wholesalers
7 Leoc Co., Ltd. 681 *1,859 Tokyo Wholesalers
8 MEFOSU Inc. 576 2,219 Tokyo Wholesalers
9 Nikkoku Trus