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Pasta and Bread Market in Japan

25 September 20208 min reading

Bread has become a popular choice for Japanese consumers in recent years. Revenue in the bread segment amounted to 13 billion 939 million dollars in 2019. This market is expected to grow at an annual CAGR of -2 percent between 2020 and 2025. In Japan where bread consumption per capita is 28.3 kg, bread expenditure per capita exceeds 110 dollars. The consumption of this product is increasing rapidly with the development of pasta culture especially after the Second World War.

Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with a surface area of 378 thousand sqm and a population of 126.4 millions. 68 percent of Japan's land is forest and the proportion of agricultural land is 12 percent. Considering that the ratio of agricultural land was 15 percent in 1995 and 13 percent in 2005, it is seen that arable land has decreased over the years. According to the data of FAO, its production decreases in all basic food necessities except vegetable oil. As a country with insufficient food production, Japan is a net food importer.

Although inspired by China, Japanese cuisine is an Asian cuisine that has created its own food culture. In Japan, which does not have large and fertile lands like China, resources are also more limited than China. The fact that Japan is an island country and the shortage of raw materials to enter the kitchen bring with it. In Japanese culture, where visuality is at the forefront in every aspect of life, aesthetic concerns draw attention in the preparation and presentation of the food. For this reason, compared to the Chinese, who attach great importance to taste, Japanese cuisine is known for its colorful, eye-pleasing and fancy tables prepared with an artist's style rather than taste.

In Japanese cuisine, like in Chinese cuisine, undercooked meals are eaten. Pasta made from wheat, rice and beans are common. In addition to seafood, boiled rice, green tea, vegetables, root and fruit pickles, chicken, eggs, beans and mushrooms are preferred foods. In Japanese cuisine, rice is used as a common and popular food in every meal.

Although pasta is not used in traditional Japanese cuisine, its consumption has become widespread with the change in food culture after World War II and there was a "pasta boom" before the 1980s. However, Japan imports about 50% of its pasta consumption. It is seen that its total annual consumption has reached 285 thousand tons. Approximately 90% of the consumption consists of long (spaghetti) pasta.

On the other hand, pasta production in the country has been decreasing in the last five years. The continuing decline in production offers new opportunities for exporters who want to enter this market. Turkey, which produces cheap and high quality pasta, is rapidly expanding its market share in Japan. Therefore, Turkish pasta exports have increased by 55% in the last five years. Turkish pasta, which has an optimum price-quality ratio for Japanese consumers, is expected to increase its exports in the Japanese market in the coming years.

Spaghetti type pastas are generally offered for sale in 300 gr, 350 gr, 500 gr or 1 kg packages. Recently, 3 or 5 pieces of products packed in 100 g bouquets are placed on the shelves; product prices may vary depending on the characteristics such as cooking time (thickness) and protein ratio. It is observed that Japanese consumers prefer spaghetti the most. Import data also confirms this finding because while spaghetti has a share of 92.5% in imports, pasta has a share of 7.5%. It is estimated that world pasta production is over 14.5 million tons, excluding the data of China. According to International Pasta Organization (IPO) data, Turkey ranks the 3rd with 1.3 million tons of production (9.3% share) after Italy and the United States. In Japan, production in 2019 was recorded at 140 thousand tons. When evaluated together with foreign trade, pasta consumption in Japan is almost 300 thousand tons per year.

The food culture of a country is not just the taste preference of that country; it also shows its national character and lifestyle. Japanese cuisine is also very rich in this sense and has dishes that attract attention in the world. The main food of traditional Japanese cuisine is rice. Rice is a part of every meal, even breakfast. When Americans invaded Japan in World War II, they tried to get the Japanese used to eating bread instead of rice.

BAKERY PRODUCTS MARKET

The bakery market in Japan has grown slowly but steadily, reaching a market size of $ 28 billion in 2019. Changing lifestyles and the increase in product variety are the main factors driving the bakery market in Japan.

Market researches show a steady increase in the consumption of bakery products, biscuits and grains. Increasing awareness of the health benefits has led consumers in Japan to switch to gluten-free organic products. Bread and cakes made from whole grains are also becoming a popular choice for health-conscious Japanese consumers. To meet changing consumer needs, vendors are radically diversifying their product categories.

Japan is witnessing a shift from traditional breakfast to easier, ready-to-eat and nutritious baked goods. Granola, a healthy diet option with the right nutrients and vitamins, is a popular choice. Before the introduction of granola, grains were not in widespread demand in Japan. The calorie control measures of bakery manufacturers in Japan will continue to gain momentum in this market.

The bakery products category classified as breads, cakes and pastries constitute a large part of the market. The growing popularity of premium baked goods among seniors has led to the growth of the segment. The growth of the market is attributed to the high adoption of granola in Japanese society. The biscuit segment has a value of just over $ 4 billion in revenues.

The bakery market in Japan includes local and international players. Competition between vendors is based on the quality of the products, brand value, pricing, shelf life, etc.. Competition in the bakery market is increasing due to customization and improvements in technology as well as the end product.

The demand for premium quality products is increasing day by day in the Japanese market. Yamazaki, one of Japan's leading vendors, is doing very successful business in the market. The five leading vendors of the bakery market in Japan; Yamazaki, Shikishima, Fuji Baking, Burbon, Ezaki Glico. These companies own about 35 percent of the market share in the bakery market in Japan. Leading players in this market are seen as key players with large incomes in the global bakery market as well. The Japanese are also very fond of Western style French croissant products. The places selling these types of pastry products are constantly crowded in every corner.

THE ROOTS OF JAPANESE BREAD CULTURE

Japan may be known as a country where rice is king, but its appetite for bread, particularly sweet and savory snack varieties, has grown unabated over the last decade. The boom in bread started soon after the 2008 global economic crisis put a strain on consumer pocketbooks.

Looking for a new indulgence, urban shoppers turned their eyes to bakeries. Unlike creamy cakes, which have a short shelf life, bread offered an affordable and tasty alternative that could be set aside for days—and even longer if frozen—boosting the appeal of the familiar food item.

Over the years, a nearly endless stream of consumer information in print and online has helped Japan’s bread culture flourish. Since the 1990s, enthusiasts around the country have regularly blogged about regional snack breads and the media has kept a culinary spotlight on the food. This burgeoning interest in leavened delicacies has inspired bread-themed events around Japan.

TAILORED TO THE JAPANESE PALATE

Bread started making real inroads into the Japanese diet after World War II. Adapted to local tastes, it tended to be much softer than European and American types. Long, bunlike loaves became regular school lunch fare, and as urban households Westernized, slices of fluffy white bread known as shokupan slowly gained appeal as a breakfast staple. In rural areas, farmers increasingly bought snack-type bread called kashipan to eat as treats during breaks in agricultural work.

Japanese also developed a taste for bona fide European breads. Many bakers traveled abroad to learn traditional breadmaking techniques and put their hard-earned skills to work upon returning home. From the late 1990s, well-known French-style bakeries like Kobe’s Comme Chinois, Kyoto’s Le Petitmec, and Tokyo’s Paul and Maison Kayser attracted customers by serving up authentic baguettes.

The last few years has seen an uptick in interest in Japanese-style snack breads from regional bakeries. Events at department stores in major cities have drawn attention to an array of fresh creations by daring bakers. Since 2013, demand for premium white bread has also been on the rise.

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