In the land of the rising sun and the birthplace of macrobiotics, the organics industry gathered for the first Biofach Japan trade show in Tokyo last December. Thousands of attendees visited 180 exhibitors from 22 countries.
The hottest organic categories at the show were soy products, red wine, meat and poultry, dairy, baby food, dried fruit and frozen vegetables, according to Biofach Japan organizer Nuremberg Global Fairs. More than half of the exhibit space featured specialty products from Italy, Germany, Spain and other western European countries.
Retail buyers also sampled certified-organic versions of traditional Japanese foods, such as miso, mochi, natto, soba and udon noodles, pickled vegetables, sake, amazake, tamari and shoyu.
Industry analysts estimate the Japanese organic market to be the third largest in the world; the United States and Europe take the top spots. According to Nutrition Business Journal, global organic food sales totaled more than $19 billion in 2000. Data regarding the size of the Japanese organic market is inconclusive because products with low amounts of pesticide residues were included in most studies. However, retail sales are estimated to be between $1.5 billion and $3 billion.
Retail trends look positive in Japan. Lawson Natural, the first organic and natural convenience store in Tokyo, celebrated its grand opening last fall. Lawson is one of the largest convenience-store chains in Japan with more than 7,500 stores.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIII/number 3/p. 42