Retail Food Sector Report

An Expert's View about Retail Sales in Japan

Posted on: 30 Sep 2012

The events of March 11, 2011 affected the operations of the Japanese Retail Food industry, but even with the resulting consumer restraint, the Japanese market experienced growth in 2011.

THIS REPORT CONTAINS ASSESSMENTS OF COMMODITY AND TRADE ISSUES MADE BY USDA STAFF AND NOT NECESSARILY STATEMENTS OF OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT POLICY Required Report - public distribution Date: 9/24/2012 GAIN Report Number: JA2522 Japan Retail Foods Retail Food Sector Report Approved By: Steve Shnitzler, Director, ATO Japan Prepared By: Sumio Thomas Aoki, Senior Marketing Specialist, Anthony Radosti, Intern, Alan Myrold, Intern Report Highlights: The events of March 11, 2011 affected the operations of the Japanese Retail Food industry, but even with the resulting consumer restraint, the Japanese market experienced growth in 2011. Convenience stores were first responders in the Northeast portion of Japan and developed mobile stores. Supermarkets continued to expand with AEON and Ito Yokado looking to develop city-style stores. Department stores unveiled new and renovated locations to reach customers. Overall market consolidation, mergers, and alliances continued in 2011. The growth of smartphone users for making purchases increased greatly in 2011, and is expected to remain a growing force for Japanese consumers in the years to come. Post: Tokyo ATO Executive Summary: SECTION I: JAPAN RETAIL FOOD SUMMARY A. Overview In 2011 the Japanese retail market had to cope with the March 11, 2011 shock and then compensate for the various after effects. Initially consumption spiked with the mass purchases of emergency items such as bottled water and batteries, followed by corresponding declines in purchases like party items and non-essential goods. The economy shifted from a rocky footing onto a more stable pathway by summer and consumer behavior normalized. The post March 11 consumer adapted to new preferences in reaction to the events, changing retail market demands significantly. First, Japanese consumers began eating out less, while having meals at home more. This has led to an increase in the Home Meal Replacement (HMR) sector, as well as the frozen food sector. Second, Japanese consumers are more attentive to products with longer shelf life, in case of future emergency situations. The Japanese retail market is dominated by two demographics: Young career seeking individuals in single person households, and the fast growing elderly population referred to as Generation M. Within this report, unless stated otherwise, the following average annual exchange rates were used: Yearly Average 2009 2010 2011 JPY¥ per USD$ 94.57 88.81 80.84 Source: B. Market Breakdown Total retail sales including food, beverages, general merchandise, fabrics, apparel, and accessories in Japan amounted to $832.6 billion in 2011. Of this figure the total food and beverage retail sales amount was $527.4 billion. Total retail sales have increased each year since 2008. In 2007, there were total retail sales of $614.6 billion and food & beverages sales of $370.6 billion. Below are the total sales figures: FIGURE 1: Total Retail Sales (Million USD$) Year Total Food & Beverage General Merchandise Fabrics, Apparel, & Accessories 2009 701,766 437,940 155,123 108,703 2010 752,573 472,638 160,095 119,840 2011 832,608 527,375 171,747 133,486 Source: The following chart displays the segments of the retail market. FIGURE 2: Bar Graph of Total Retail Sales (Million USD$) Source: C. Food Sales in 2011 The Japanese retail food industry in 2011 experienced growth across all three categories of large and conventional supermarkets, department stores, and convenience stores (FIGURE 3). As stated previously the resilience of the industry and its ability to quickly adapt to the market changes along with economic growth in the latter half of the year helped spur on the retail food industry growth. Food sales increased from 2009 to 2011 for the three retail categories, according to the Current Survey of Commerce conducted by The Ministry of Economic, Trade and Industry (METI). A consolidated explanation of the Current Survey of Commerce is in the table and full details can be found at the METI website. FIGURE 3: Food Retail Sales of Three Categories for 2009-2011 (Million USD$) Large-scale Supermarket & Conventional Department Convenience Year Supermarkets Stores Store 2009 84,919 21,579 53,687 2010 92,567 22,174 58,119 2011 104,626 23,945 66,226 SOURCE: METI Part 3-1, 4-1 D. Food and Beverage Sales While food sales grew across all segments, overall sales growth was observed in most regions of Japan as many households spent more time and money purchasing food items to consume at home rather than spending money at restaurants in 2011. Restaurant spending did increase in 2011, but food purchases for home consumption were the larger portion of spending. Six out of eight prefectures showed positive sale growth rates from 2009 to 2011; even Northeast Japan (Tohoku) showed a 0.5% increase despite the March 11 disaster. Also, in each prefecture, the number of large- scale retail stores increased. Japanese real economic growth rate for 2011 was estimated at minus 0.7% by EuroStat and minus 0.4% by the Bank of Japan. The negative growth rate was expected due to the hardships that had to be overcome, but it is important to keep in mind that even in an environment of stagnant sales; geographic markets in Japan are quite sizable - often exceeding that of entire countries. For example, the Kyushu Fukuoka region alone has a GDP that exceeds that of Norway or Taiwan (Kyushu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2011). FIGURE 4: Regional Sales and Population Overall Food N Food Purchasing Sales umber of 2010 Year & Beverage Power per Growth Establishments Population Sales (JPY Mil) Household (Yen) '09-'11 2009 554,309 283 Hokkaido 2010 563,196 313 5,506,419 681,430 4.08% 2011 577,914 316 M 2009 244,972 135 iyagi 2010 241,704 139 2,348,165 747,818 0.47% (Tohoku) 2011 246,119 138 2009 1,260,387 346 Tokyo 2010 1,260,243 360 13,159,388 803,107 -0.82% (Kanto) 2011 1,250,190 368 2009 718,871 302 Aichi 2010 726,741 313 7,410,719 * 1.89% (Chubu) 2011 732,697 318 2009 836,003 294 Osaka 2010 817,535 297 8,865,245 800,702 -1.14% (Kinki) 2011 826,593 305 2009 202,869 91 Hiroshima 2010 208,919 100 2,860,750 709,465 5.17% (Chugoku) 2011 213,940 101 2009 110,981 70 Ehime 2010 112,734 72 1,431,493 862,357 4.54% (Shikoku) 2011 116,254 73 2009 264,166 144 Fukuoka 2010 269,333 161 5,071,968 793,021 8.29% (Kyushu) 2011 288,035 170 Source: Part 3-Table 2 2010 Census MIC Statistics *Data not currently available from Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) SECTION II: RETAIL MARKET INDUSTRY A. Establishment Trends In 2011, supermarkets and convenience stores continued to be the primary distribution channel for food in Japan. The market has been relatively stable over the last 3 years with the only notable trend that department stores are losing ground slightly, but this corresponds with the decline of department store sales in general. Regional and national supermarkets are vying for market share, and in order to compete against AEON and Ito Yokado, regional supermarkets such as ARCS in Hokkaido and Universe in Northern Japan are merging. The breakdown of Japan Retail Food market data for 2011 is: FIGURE 5: Japan Retail Food Market Percentages for 2011 Large-scale Supermarket & Conventional Department Convenience Year Supermarkets Stores Store 2009 53.0% 13.5% 33.5% 2010 53.6% 12.8% 33.6% 2011 53.7% 12.3% 34.0% SOURCE: Figure 2.1 & METI Part 3-1, 4-1 B. Large Scale and Conventional Supermarkets Supermarkets in Japan represent the largest provider of food and within the supermarket sector the top 5 companies (AEON, Ito Yokado, Uny, Daiei, and Life Corp.) represent 65% of all sales. The two main players, AEON & Ito Yokado, account for 42.5% of all supermarket sales. These companies are the driving force behind innovation and expansion. 1. Outlets The supermarket business in Japan is a mature market which is at full saturation levels for standard large-scale and conventional supermarkets. As in 2010, the status quo changed very little. A few supermarkets closed, but others emerged in Western Japan. The greatest change to how supermarket retailers perceived their business model was in response to the disaster in Northeast Japan and how best to provide the support. This can be seen in the development of city-style stores. 2. City-style Stores One key finding from March 11 was that convenience stores were better suited to quickly re-establish their stores and support the local consumers in an emergency situation. Convenience stores were the first ones to deliver products using small vans and to open their stores in affected areas. Taking the lessons learned to compete with convenience stores, large supermarkets are developing small “City-style stores”. Store sizes measure about 1800 square yards of floor space. Tokyo and other cities are major targets for these city-style stores. 3. Target Market As the Japanese market continues to mature, supermarket giants AEON and Ito Yokado have strengthened their networks to reach single adults and Generation M. The older generation especially has wealth to spend and AEON is targeting this group by changing store hours to open 2 hours early. In addition to opening early, AEON has special promotions related to these early bird specials – resulting in more foot traffic especially among the elderly population. 4. Price Competition Price competition has become more intense and is a major feature of the supermarket business in Japan. Supermarkets are reducing costs and improving their infrastructures through restructuring and closing unprofitable stores in an effort to improve efficiency. The companies which have succeeded to reduce management cost and to prevent losses have regained their profit. One strategy has been the creation of Private Brands (PB), such as AEON TopValu or Ito Yokado store brands. Seiyu, acquired in full by Wal-Mart in 2008, has finally leveraged their 10 years of experience and vast global network to more efficiently bring products to the Japanese market, such as U.S. beef for 30% less than standard outlets. Notably, on June 13, 2012, Wal-Mart announced plans to slash prices on 1400 products by the end of the year. 5. Company Highlights The following table highlights the Japanese supermarket industry food sales, and the percentage component those sales represent. The general trend has been greater food sales in 2011. FIGURE 6: Top Supermarkets by Total Sales in 2011 Total Food Company Ratio of Food Number of Location of HQ & Rank* N (USD (USD ame M Outlets Stores il.) M Sales il.) 1 AEON Retail 27,214 13,751 51% 500 Chiba 2 Ito-Yokado 16,505 8,022 49% 173 Tokyo 3 Uny 9,280 6,174 67% 227 Aichi 4 Daiei 8,127 4,985 61% 211 Hyogo 5 Life Corp. 6,040 4,960 82% 224 Tokyo 6 Izumi 5,821 1,942 33% 80 Hiroshima 7 York 4,242 3,179 75% 176 Fukushima Benimaru 8 Arcs 4,307 3,768 87% 253 Sapporo 9 Heiwado 3,868 2,591 67% 131 Shiga 10 Maruetsu 3,910 3,653 93% 262 Tokyo 11 Fuji 3,645 1,537 42% 96 Ehime 12 Izumiya 3,671 2,171 59% 86 Osaka 13 Okuwa 3,152 2,375 75% 156 Wakayama 14 MV West 3,084 2,839 92% 161 Hiroshima 15 AEON 2,893 1,349 47% 104 Fukuoka Kyushu Source: FY2011 Annual Statements (various) & Tokei Geppou May 2012 pp 79 & 81 *Original rankings based on Total Operating Revenue 6. Specialty Specialty supermarkets are important for export products because these stores carry products with higher prices. Here is a list and some background information for these specialty supermarkets. Kinokuniya: First self-service supermarket in Japan. Meidi-ya: First supermarket to specialize in imported products. Seijo Ishii: Combination of specialty products and convenience store. (J) Dean & Deluca: Premium product and prices. Emphasis on delicatessen. Queens Isetan: Special shelf space for imported products. (J) Kaldi Coffee: Specializes in premium imported products. C. Convenience Stores (CVS) In 2011 convenience stores were proactive and were one of the first retailers to move into the Northeast Japan area. The mobility of convenience store operations, smaller size, and less SKUs allowed convenience stores to play a vital role in supplying the region. One way convenience stores helped after the disaster was by releasing “Mobile Convenience Stores”. These are small 3 ton trucks which can hold up to 300 items of bento boxes, rice balls, drinks, and snacks. These trucks were used in areas where stores were destroyed or where evacuees had trouble accessing food. 1. Outlets Convenience stores in 2011 continued strategies to develop and maintain efficient networks. Convenience stores for the top 7 operators in 2010 numbered 41,663 and in 2011 the total number of convenience stores in Japan increased by 13.4% to 48,139 according to the Nikkei fiscal 2011 convenience store survey. This expansion and competitive trend will continue in 2012 as the top 5 convenience stores plan on opening over 3,700 new stores. 2. Company Highlights The following table (Figure 7) summarizes the top convenience stores in Japan 2011. Food sales grew again in 2011 by an additional $8 billion and three of the top 4 convenience store chains broke their records for operating profit. Profits were boosted by female and elderly customers buying fresh food, desserts, and ready to eat meals in the aftermath of the quake. Seven & i* became the first Japanese retailer to achieve more than ¥3 trillion ($37.1 billion) in annual sales. With the earnings in 2011, convenience stores are set to once again expand outlets and network capabilities in 2012. *Note: Seven & i is the parent company of Ito Yokado, Seven Eleven Japan, and others. FIGURE 7: Top Convenient Stores in 2011 (Sales & Outlets) Company Total Rank N ber of Outlets Location ame (USD Mi Numl.) 1 Seven Eleven 26,337 14005 Nationwide 2 Lawson 17,870 9065 Nationwide 3 Family Mart 10,897 8164 Nationwide 4 Circle K Sunkus 6,144 5084 Nationwide 5 Mini Stop 2,727 2046 Tokyo/Nagoya 6 Three F 789 639 Tokyo Area 7 Poplar 654 700 Nationwide Source: Tokei Geppou May 2012 pp 52 D. Department Stores Since the 1980s Japanese department stores have faced steeper competition from the growth of supermarkets, malls, and convenience stores. Department stores generally have a variety of shops and services, with the basement level having a grocery or eatery shops. 1. Outlets Significant restructuring among major department stores has increased. For example, the major department store Sogo filed for bankruptcy and merged with Seibu Department Store, which is now Millennium Retailing Co. The second largest department store, Isetan, merged with the third largest department store Mitsukoshi. The Kansai region’s large department store Hankyu merged with its strongest competitor, Hanshin Department Store. They now operate under the name, H2O Retailing. Daimaru Department Store merged with Matsuzakaya and established J Front Retailing. Various retailers renovated and reopened stores; Isetan Mitsukoshi updated their stores and are targeting consumers with better promotions; H2O Retailing has been renovating a flagship store that will reopen in November. 2. Sales In 2011 department store food sales amounted to $23.9 billion, representing 12.3% of the Retail Food market in Japan. Over the last decade total department store sales of non-food products have declined. However, food sales at department stores have grown because of premium products, location, and the use of the depachika. 3. Depachika Depachika means the basement floor of the department store where fresh food halls are traditionally located. Traditionally, depachika was a quiet retail food location. This changed when shops introduced high-quality HMR, creating a new niche food market in Japan. In addition, famous restaurants became tenants and lent their brand names to popularize depachika. The depachika phenomenon turned the basement floor into an attractive place and a means of bringing customers to department stores. Department stores are often attached to large train stations (such as the newly opened Shibuya Hikarie owned and operated by Tokyu Corp). Because of the proximity to the stations, pedestrians can easily access depachika eateries; Tokyu Corp’s Hikarie location is estimated to attract 14 million visitors a year, with 200 shops, and many of the eateries staying open until 4am on weekends. 4. Pricing, Quality and Premium Department stores usually carry imported branded products, but they are typically in low quantities. Many of the items are packaged as take-and-go products due to the proximity to stations and the premium nature of the products for use as gifts. 5. Company Highlights Listed below are the top 10 department stores and their food sales for Japan in 2011. FIGURE 8: Top Department Stores by Total Sales in 2011 Rank* Compa otal Food ny Name T io of Food Sales Number of Outlets (USD Mil.) (USD Mi Ratl.) 1 Takashimaya 9,436 2,793 30% 20 2 Sogo & Seibu 10,118 2,112 21% 26 3 J Front 9,116 2,035 22% 22 4 Mitsukoshi 7,890 1,831 23% 15 5 Marui 4,118 653 16% 26 6 H2O Retailing 4,643 1,545 33% 15 7 Kintetsu 3,332 1,140 34% 12 8 Tokyu 2,425 * * 11 9 Tobu 2,499 * * 4 10 Odakyu 1,838 * * 3 Source: 2012年食品マケテイング使覧 (2012 Shokuhin Marketing), FY2011 Annual Statements (various) *Original rankings based on Total Operating Revenue **Note: not all department stores list food as separate sales figures Section III: Consumer Trends and Changes A. Historical Japanese consumers are a sophisticated clientele with tastes and preferences instilled via cultural, societal, and environmental drivers. If you are considering developing products or searching for products to export to Japan, please consider these following historical characteristics of the Japanese market that still have relevance today. 1. Demographics An abundance of literature abounds on the topic of Japanese demographics and rightly so – Japan’s baby boom generation of 1947-1949 is now retiring. The roughly 6.6 million citizens are expanding the silver demographic market. Japan has the fastest growing elderly population (over 65) or Generation M, in the world. In 2010, Generation M represents 23% of the entire population in Japan. By the year 2020, it is estimated to increase to 29% and then 36% by the year 2040. Of course the total population is estimated to decline from 127 million in 2010 to approximately 105 million in 2040. The Japanese National Institute of Population and Social Security Research estimate the demographic change as: FIGURE 5: Forecast for Japanese Demographics Population (Thousand) by Age Group Year Total 0-14 15-64 65+ 2005 127,768 17,585 84,422 25,761 2010 127,176 16,479 81,285 29,412 2015 125,430 14,841 76,807 33,781 2020 122,735 13,201 73,635 35,899 2025 119,270 11,956 70,960 36,354 2030 115,224 11,150 67,404 36,670 2035 110,679 10,512 62,919 37,249 2040 105,695 9,833 57,335 38,527 2045 100,443 9,036 53,000 38,407 2050 95,152 8,214 49,297 37,641 2055 89,930 7,516 45,951 36,463 Source: National Institute of Population and Social Security Research FIGURE 6: Forecast Population Percentage by Age Group Source: National Institute of Population and Social Security Research 2. Seasons and Holidays Japan prides itself for the four distinct seasons that they experience – and this is reflected in the changes in consumer purchasing habits and patterns of gift giving throughout the year. A quick breakdown for reference is: Month Sales, Promotions, Events, and Holidays Spring – March High School & University Graduation events White Day (another Valentine’s Day) Sakura (cherry blossom) travel Fiscal Year begins – job rotation April New school year begin events Entrance ceremony for companies – sales, promotions May Mother’s Day Golden Week – holiday sales, travel, events Summer – June/July Father’s Day Ochu-gen, summer gift giving August Obon holiday promotions Fall – September Respect for the Aged day October/November Oseibo, gift giving Winter – December Christmas sales New Years & end of year sales campaigns January Coming of Age holiday Setsubun promotions February Valentine’s Day Fiscal Year ending promotions by companies Christmas, New Years, and winter sales are very common. For Valentine’s Day, Japan has embraced the purchasing of gifts and notably chocolate, but only women give presents to men. Men then give presents to women on White Day in March. As reported by The Japan Times, Bloomberg, and by Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. in Tokyo, Valentine’s Day accounts for over 20% of total annual chocolate sales in Japan. For exporting to Japan or bringing a product to the retail market, please keep in mind the Japanese holidays, promotions, and seasonal factors. 3. Preferences Japanese consumers have some general historic preferences that one should consider. Japan is a nation that prefers convenience, quality, and single-serving sizes. Returning to the latter item, an estimated 3.23 million people commute into Tokyo every day according to Tokyo Metropolitan government. The commute is mostly done via train and then on foot. Therefore convenience and accessibility are highly valued by Japanese consumers. B. Recent Trends There are recent trends of burgeoning growth for Private Brands, Healthy Foods, Eco-friendly or Energy saving foods (typically as frozen foods), market consolidation for greater efficiency, and new retail ideas to meet new demands. Energy efficient foods (frozen foods - bento dashi), prepared foods (Home Meal Replacements – HMR), and desserts have all seen a strong market growth. Healthy or Functional foods continue to be important. 1. Healthy or Functional Foods The demand for healthy and nutritionally balanced foods has increased with interest strongest among those aged 50 and above and adult women. The healthy food category (or functional foods) has been growing steadily since the mid 1990’s. In Japan, functional food can be divided into “Foods for Specific Health Use,” or FOSHU, and health enhanced food. Among the numerous attributes that serve to distinguish one from the other, the most important is that FOSHU products require government approval, while health-enhanced food products do not. What motivates companies to pursue the FOSHU designation, rather than avoid the often-lengthy approval process, is that they can affix the FOSHU seal on the product in question should it meet the Minster of Health Labor and Welfare (MHLW) criteria. FOSHU Seal, Source: MHLW In 2005 the Japanese government eased regulations, blurring the line between the two categories, but receiving the FOSHU logo on a product still requires approval. For comparison a product in the U.S. that has health claims such as a diet that consists of more fiber may reduce cholesterol must receive approval from the FDA – the same applies to the FOSHU logo from the MHLW in Japan. 2. Home Meal Replacements (HMR) “Prepared Meals Sold at Retail Stores” are increasing in sales in every retail area. The foods are ready-to eat, Home Meal Replacement (HMR) type products (obento lunch boxes at the office are one example). It is estimated that 22% of all meals in Japan are HMR. The growth in HMR is driven by the increase of Japanese households eating at home and two demographic sectors. 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 buy groceries. As a result, many get their daily meals from the local convenience stores. Likewise, young professionals who live alone or with roommates often don’t cook and almost exclusively eat out. The expanding retail presence of “delicatessen” in supermarkets, department stores, and convenience stores attests to the popularity of the HMR market. Frozen foods have also gained a large presence in the HMR market. “Thaw and Serve Bento” are lunches that are bought frozen in the morning, and by lunchtime are thawed and ready to eat. At home frozen noodle dishes, okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese style pancake or pizza), and cooked rice dishes are meals that can be brought home frozen, reheated, and consumed. 3. Private Brands (PB) The majority of major food retailers now feature their own private brands. Studies conclude that PB products will continue to gain more shelf space. A 2009 survey by the Japan Finance Corporation found that 67.8% of all food manufacturers produce PB products and that 23.2% of those companies would like to increase the number of PB products; and 9.8% of all manufacturers wished to introduce PB products to their line-up. In another survey performed in 2010 on consumer response toward PB products; the survey found that even if the economy improves consumers will continue to purchase PB products. 4. Frozen Foods Frozen food sales in Japan have steadily increased since 2010. This rise drastically increased in 2011 after March 11, because Japanese consumers are dining in and valuing products with longer shelf-lives which can be stored in case of future disasters. Many versions of home meal replacement frozen foods are trending in Japan now with prepared foods composing 56.8% of the frozen food market. Some examples of these foods include cooked rice dishes, Asian and Western noodles, breads, and fish. Overall, Japanese frozen food imports have experienced a large increase in 2011. Total frozen food imports to Japan rose 17.6% from the previous year. Of those, frozen vegetable imports increased to ¥120.1 billion ($1.49 billion), a 7.6% increase from 2010. 5. Sweets Sweets are an important section of convenience stores. Recently they have been marketing their dessert brands through advertising campaigns with the goal of distinguishing themselves from the competition. Lawson’s series’ called “Uchi Café Sweets” (Our Café Sweets) is famous for their roll cakes and cookies. Family Mart’s “Sweets +” has shown positive sales since 2007. Finally, Circle K Sunkus’ brand “Cherie Dolce” released a crème tiramisu that is very popular. Male consumers are increasingly consuming more sweets. To prepare for this, new sweets products targeted at men are being released. In 2010 Family Mart introduced “Ore no suitsu” or “Manly sweets” with the emphasis on being a masculine product. These sweets are labeled with blue text instead of pink, and are larger than the female targeted products. 6. Consumption Japan is a nation fueled by consumption, a key component to economic recovery. In 2010 the World Bank reported consumption in Japan as 58.58% of GDP and 23% of household expenditures in Japan go towards food according to Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications 2009 Survey. There are two main consumer groups in Japan: Generation M and Youth. Generation M Consumption Just like in the United States with the Baby Boom Generation retiring, Japanese of Generation M (roughly 6.6 million citizens currently) are expanding the silver demographic market. Last year Japanese age 60+ spent $1.18 trillion (¥101 trillion) and these silver spenders account for 44% of the consumer spending in Japan. Of the $1.18 trillion, 70% was from the 65+ age bracket. The retail response has come in the form of delivery services, mobile operations, expanded internet shopping, smart phone market integration, specific oriented promotions, and products developed with Generation M in mind. Seniors will continue to play an integral role in the Japanese market and projections show the 60+ age category will expand worldwide from 800 million in 2010 to 2 billion in 2050. Researchers expect spending by seniors worldwide to double to $15 trillion (the 2011 size of the U.S. GDP) and see Japan’s rich aging consumers as a dynamic testing ground. Youth Consumption With such a large senior market, the youth in Japan are often overlooked. But recent indicators show consumption spending increases among Japanese youth. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication showed a December 2011 improvement of 12.5% in spending within the lower income bracket where 20 year olds tend to be. A survey of businessmen in their 20s showed a return to the 2009 level of average spending of $42.50 (¥3600) on nights out. Finally, there is a growing trend in groups –youth (20s-30s) whom prefer going out as a group of three; restaurants, movies, events. 7. Market Consolidation Market consolidation highlights from 2011 were: On February 18, 2011 Mitsubishi wholesale company was established with the merger of Mitsubishi Shokuhin (food), RyoShoku, Meidi-ya, San-Esu, and Food Service Network. Ryoshoku was one of the strongest beverage distributors and was the second largest wholesale company after Kokubu. Meidi-ya ranked eighth and Food Service Network ranked ninth. The press release states the reason for the merger was to protect the safety of food quality and food supply by creating a new wholesale distribution model capable of adapting to changing consumer demands and diversification and to withstand long term deflation. On October 21, 2011, Universe supermarkets, headquartered in Aomori, the most northern prefecture on mainland Japan joined ARCS, creating a group that includes 47 stores located in three northern prefectures, (Aomori prefecture 30 stores, Iwate prefecture 16 stores, and Akita prefecture 1 store) adding $1.3 billion in value to the ARCS group. Recently AEON acquired a 50% stake for ¥1 ($0.01) in Tesco Japan as Tesco is leaving the Japanese market after 9 years of trying to gain a foothold. Tesco Japan currently operates 117 small supermarkets in Tokyo and surrounding areas and hired Goldman Sachs last year for advice on the sale of its stores. These stores are larger than convenience stores, but smaller than typical supermarkets and fill the new “city-style” stores that AEON has been looking to expand into. Section IV: Road Map for Market Entry A. Food Distribution System in Japan There are no magic formulas for new–to market exporters to enter the Japanese retail food market. Strategies will vary depending on the type of food product being introduced and the current competitive environment. However, looking into the differences in distribution systems and structure can also help you formulate a feasible market entry into Japan, for example: 1. Overall, traditional entry points via importers are beginning to make way for other more diverse avenues. For example, even within one food retail organization (i.e., large-scale supermarket, regional supermarket chain, convenience store chain, etc.), there may be several routes for procurement – including importers, wholesalers, etc. 2. Large-scale supermarkets still rely primarily on importers and wholesalers. Most are engaged to some degree in developing and maintaining private labels, which they tend to outsource to food processors. 3. Conventional supermarkets tend to depend more on wholesalers. They usually procure from a number of regional/local and national wholesalers who buy imported food products from trading houses and importers. Wholesalers and big trading houses are generally interested in handling high volume products, not niche- oriented products. B. Supermarket Store Structure Giant nationwide supermarket chains including AEON and Ito Yokado mainly purchase their foods through three channels: 1. Direct from the importers 2. Direct from the manufacturers and processors 3.Wholesalers and distributors Conventional supermarkets purchase through similar distribution channels, although they mainly purchase from wholesalers, whereas the major national chains rely more on direct routes. Source: ATO C. Department Store Structure Food items at department stores are procured almost entirely through wholesalers and tenant merchants. Imported products reaching department store “tenant merchant” shelves is dependent upon the wholesaler purchasing these products from importers or trading companies. Tenant merchant companies mainly purchase the ingredients for their products from wholesalers and then manufacture the products to be sold. Source: ATO D. Convenience Store Structure Convenience store chains utilize trading companies and wholesalers, depending on the type of product. Due to limited space, convenience stores can only handle a few brands per category. Product performance is reviewed continuously, and slow moving products are replaced quickly, ensuring the highest turnover possible. Their management systems present the most significant challenges for imported packaged processed foods, since they require that U.S. exporters: 1. Modify product taste/specifications to fit the tastes of Japanese consumers 2. Shorten delivery time to ensure freshness 3. Update and introduce new products frequently E. Specialty and Other Stores The remainder of the Japanese Retail Food industry is made up of a small, but energetic group of stores ranging the gamut of co-ops, traditional shops, specialty shops, and the online marketplace. 1. Co-Ops and Voluntary Chains These use a variety of sources, including importers, wholesalers and direct importing. Serving voluntary chains, there are several major joint procurement organizations: CGC Japan, Nichiryu, All Japan Supermarket Association (AJS) and Consumer Cooperatives (Co-ops). Their major role is to develop private brand products with Japanese food processors and overseas sources to sell to member retailers. Some of these organizations directly import non-branded food products that are “volume” oriented in nature. 2. Traditional Stores These are Mom & Pop or “one category” stores that typically depend on wholesalers. Penetration of imported foods into these shops and stores is relatively low. 3. Specialty Shops These shops (i.e., foreign foods, discount foods, etc.) also primarily depend on wholesalers. Selected coffee shop chains, discount stores and natural food specialty stores with chain operations may be worth development for U.S. food exporters. 4. Online Finally, online sales including TV, mail order offers yet another possible channel that U.S. exporters can consider for retail food distribution. Majority of the sales are still non foods, but food and beverage sales are increasingly being purchased online. The Japan Direct Marketing Association in August 2011 reported that total online sales in Japan of ¥4.67 trillion ($57.8 billion). Over the past decade consumer purchases online have doubled and the annual growth from 2010 to 2011 was 8.4%. This illustrates the power of the internet for consumers in Japan. In a July 2012 White Paper released by the Communications Ministry, smartphones will play a huge role in the future market. Smartphones are expected to generate ¥7.2 trillion ($89.1 billion) in economic revenue and currently represent 10% of the domestic e-market. Rakuten, a virtual mall powerhouse in Japan, reported that roughly 10% of all transactions are received via smartphones. And for the Jan-June 2012 period enjoyed double-digit growth and consolidated operating profit of ¥36 billion ($450 million), making it the 4th largest retailer in all of Japan. The report attributes the gain to sustained strength in online food and drink purchases. Food and groceries are also cheaper on the Amazon site; Cup of Noodles by Nissin are ¥126 when purchasing a pack of 20 in comparison to the AEON Koto store of ¥138. Amazon Japan allows e-tailers to sell commerce through their portal site more efficiently and with greater profit margins and Amazon Japan generates an estimated ¥500 billion ($5.86 billion) in yearly sales. By using warehouses and IT-based inventory control these retailers are increasing the share of food purchases online by Japanese consumers. It is worth noting that as Japan continues to embrace e-money, point cards, smart phone technology (NFC payment systems, store apps, and web based purchasing), and discount or promotions accessed via the web – this market will continue to grow. AEON Shop is an online store that continues to expand; KFC has launched an online only store with 20-30 internet only products, and Dominos Japan smart phone app allows you to deliver to a specific GPS location (such as a gathering at a park). Seven & i plans on consolidating its subsidiaries (Ito Yokado, Seven-Eleven Japan, etc) into a joint online store called Seven Net Shopping in 2012 and expand grocery operations. F. International Competition of Food Exports to Japan The United States is by and far the largest exporter of food products to the Japanese market, representing 26.68% of all imported value in 2011. China’s export has remained stable over the last three years. Thailand and Brazil represent the fasting growing exporters to the Japanese Retail Food market. FIGURE 11: Major Food Exporters to Japan USD (millions) % Share % Change Rank Partner Country 2009 2010 2011 2009 2010 2011 2011/2010 World 44,353 50,652 62,986 100.00 100.00 100.00 24.35 1 United States 12,974 13,862 16,803 29.25 27.37 26.68 21.22 2 China 5,160 6,022 7,071 11.63 11.89 11.23 17.42 3 Thailand 2,959 3,785 5,290 6.67 7.47 8.40 39.74 4 Australia 3,806 4,232 4,954 8.58 8.36 7.87 17.07 5 Canada 3,165 3,503 4,510 7.14 6.92 7.16 28.77 6 Brazil 1,809 2,380 3,451 4.08 4.70 5.48 44.99 7 Indonesia 861 1,547 2,492 1.94 3.05 3.96 61.12 8 France 1,228 1,307 1,516 2.77 2.58 2.41 16.03 9 New Zealand 1,142 1,287 1,467 2.57 2.54 2.33 14.01 10 Malaysia 849 1,029 1,424 1.91 2.03 2.26 38.36 Source: Global Trade Atlas (Agriculture Total, Group 2) Using the same data presented as a pie chart, one can see the commanding lead of U.S. food exports to Japan and conversely the preference and liking of U.S. goods by the Japanese consumer. Figure 12: Food Exporters to Japan Source: Global Trade Atlas (Agriculture Total, Group 2) Key factors affecting food exports to Japan are: imported food products are often less expensive than their domestic counterparts, Japanese consumers now tend to show tolerance with imported food after the Fukushima incident, and the strong yen exchange rate of the last few years has driven up food imports from foreign countries to Japan. In particular, dairy products from the U.S. to Japan increased by 56.7% in value 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. U.S. exports of red meats, chicken, fresh vegetables, and tree nuts to Japan experienced the double digit increases in 2011 over 2010 (Global Trade Atlas). G. Summary of U.S. Food Product Advantages in the Japanese Market Key Words Advantages Current Position Quality U.S. specialty food products attract Have a good story to educate customers Japanese consumers. U.S. products usually have a about the quality of your product. good story to tell. Emphasize quality. Cultural Japanese consumers are strongly influenced by U.S. Be able to explain how your product relates Influences food culture. to American culture. Health Health related food market in the U.S. is advanced. Address health related benefits but be Consciousness Even though your product may not be a health careful you don’t make claims unless you product, make sure to emphasize any health have Japanese government approval. benefits. Food Safety U.S. agriculture can successfully Educating your customer about safety issues differentiate itself from Japan and third countries on helps to facilitate communication and food safety issues by HACCP, GAP, ISO, etc. provides your customer transferable knowledge. Stable Supply The U.S. is the largest exporter of food products to Japan’s food self sufficiency rate is only 39% Japan. As a largest supplier of food products in the and it has been declining due to aging world, the U.S. has a great opportunity to expand population and the declining farm exports to Japan. population. SECTION V: CONTACT AND FURTHER INFORMATION If you have any questions or comments regarding this report or need assistance with exporting to Japan, please contact the U.S. Agricultural Trade Offices in Tokyo or Osaka at the following addresses: Tokyo Osaka U.S. Agricultural Trade Office U.S. Agricultural Trade Office U.S. Embassy, Tokyo U.S. Consulate General, Osaka-Kobe 1-10-5 Akasaka, Minato-ku 2-11-5, Nishi-tenma, Kita-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 Osaka 530-8543 Tel: 81-3-3224-5115 Tel: 81-6-6315-5904 Fax: 81-3-3582-6429 Fax: 81-6-6315-5906 E-mail: E-mail: ATO Japan has begun a series of regional reports to provide specific information on major regions in Japan. Please go to and click on “Regional Briefs”. To date, the ATO has reports on the Kansai region (Osaka/Kobe), and the Chugoku region (Hiroshima). Reports on Hokkaido (Sapporo), and Kyushu (Fukuoka/Kagoshima) will be available soon. Other websites: Additional Reports: Reports from Japan’s ATOs, in addition to those from the Agricultural Affairs Office in Japan, can be found using the links provided or by searching from the FAS Japan Reports website at:
Posted: 30 September 2012

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