U.S. lettuce exporters urged to explore options in Japan

Japan’s fresh-cut vegetable market is growing despite the fact that the country’s overall vegetable consumption continues to decline. Since the early 1980s, the food service sector’s development and efforts to reduce costs have led to the growth of the cut vegetable market for industrial use.

Today, a set of new factors have combined to boost new demand for cut vegetables, especially in the retail sectors. So far, the use of U.S. vegetables has been limited. However the latest developments are creating new opportunities for U.S. grown vegetables that did not exist before.

A recent expansion of the cut vegetable market is beginning to offer new potential inroads. A surge in imports of lettuce over the last few years, especially from Taiwan, underscores a new opportunity for exporters that is emerging in Japan’s food processing and food service sectors, particularly in Taiwan’s off season.

Therefore, U.S. exporters should explore options for taking advantage of these new
developments. A series of interviews with Japanese produce importers and processors reveal that one of the products with the greatest potential is lettuce, including both iceberg and romaine.

The market potential for these products has long been recognized yet the risk of fumigation has prevented U.S. exporters from being able to take full advantage of that potential. The potential is ever greater now and seeming to warrant
additional effort s by the U.S. industry to try to reduce the fumigation risks.

Please click here to read the full USDA Gain report.

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