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Changing consumer demand drives growth in Japan's processed fruit industry

The market for fruit in Japan is changing. Demand for easy - to - eat foods is growing, driven by factors such as the continued diversification of the diet, especially among younger generations, and the growth in the number of single and two person households.

Meanwhile, consumers of all generations are becoming increasingly health conscious, which is creating new demand for certain products associated with health. Japan’s entire food industry, including the retail, restaurant and food processing sectors, has adjusted to respond to these evolving consumer demands.

One of the products that has benefited from this trend is processed fruit. Demand for convenient foods that are also healthy is expected to grow further and so is the role of processed fruit as part of the Japanese diet. Because the United States is one of the world’s largest suppliers of processed fruit, the latest developments in the Japanese market offer potential opportunities to U.S. suppliers.

Market Overview
The Japanese Processed Fruit Market Japan’s fruit market has traditionally focused on production and consumption of fresh fruits. Until recently, very little fresh fruit has been produced specifically for processing purposes, except for juice.

This is largely because fresh fruit tends to be treated as a premium product, attracting relatively high prices, so there has been little incentive for farmers to focus on producing lower - grade, cheaper fruit just for processing purposes. That being the case, only limited data is available as to the overall size of Japan’s processed fruit market.

One of the few comprehensive datasets available has been prepared by the Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery (MAFF). According to MAFF’s analysis, Japanese production of processed fruit (including juice) was estimated to be the equivalent of 360,000 MT of fresh fruit in 2013, the most rece nt data available. This volume accounts for about 12% of total fresh fruit output, based on the government’s conversion rate.

As for Japan’s total demand for fresh and processed fruits, the volume has fallen slightly over the past decade with occasional rebounds. Based on the government’s estimate and conversion rates of processed fruits into fresh fruits, Japan’s total fruit demand is estimated to be at 7,746,000 MT as of 2013.

The demand peaked in 2005. Of the total demand, nearly 59% is for fresh fruit while the rest is for processed fruit. By source, locally - grown produce supplies about 39% of the country’s overall demand for fruits fresh and processed combined), while the remaining 61% i s covered by imported fruit, including juice. However most of Japan’s processed fruits are sourced from overseas. Japan relies on imports for nearly 90% of its demand for processed fruit. That compares to just 41.2% for fresh fruit.

Japan’s consumption of fresh fruit has been on a steady decline since it peaked in the mid - 1970s. Despite the downward trend for fresh fruit, Japan’s demand for processed fruits has been strong overall. The recent increase in Japan's import of various forms of processed fruit reflects an ongoing change in the way Japanese people consume fruits.

According to a 2014 survey conducted by a government - related fruit association, more than 45% of those in their 20s said they would eat “processed” fruit as often, or more often, than they eat fresh fruit. (Nearly 45% of them said they would eat fresh fruit in the main). The figure was lower for older generations. Still, even among those in their 30s or 40s, the ratio was over 30%. The result suggests “convenience” means not just easy to eat but often “not perishable” for younger generations. The top reason cited for not eating fresh fruits every day was that “fresh fruit is perishable” (42.2%), followed by “pricey”, “not easy to eat” and “having other options to eat”, the same survey said. 

Overall Import Trends and U.S. Position From 2006 to 2016, Japan’s total imports of processed fruits (frozen, dried, canned) grew 23.2% by value to USD 917.9 million, led by frozen and canned fruit. However, the import value fell 2.7% in 2016 from the previous year led by declines in the frozen sector, and the level is down 9.7% from its most recent peak in 2012. The biggest component of this sector by value has been canned fruit, which accounts for 59.6%. That is followed by frozen and dried fruits with a market share 21.8% and 18.6% in 2016 respectively.

For more information: gain.fas.usda.gov

Publication date: 7/5/2017


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