Commodity Innovation Series - Snapshot of Opportunities in Japan's Blueberry Sector
Japan is the third largest importer of fresh blueberries and cranberries in Asia Pacific
- Blueberries are well-known as products and ingredients in Japan, and Japanese customers are particularely familiar with Canadian wild blueberries.
- Although wild blueberries have historically been the most popular type of blueberry imports from Canada, there is increasing interest in cultivated blueberries due to their cheaper price.
- Blueberries are mainly used for jam, but also for dairy products such as yoghurt and ice cream, beverages, snack bars, and bakery products. There is also a market for dried berries.
Blueberries in Bulk
Canada was Japan's fourth largest supplier of blueberries and cranberries in 2016
- The majority of Japan's blueberry imports from Canada are frozen wild blueberries
- Canadian blueberries are typically shipped in bulk for use by Japanese processors/manufacturers or for private labels
98% of Japan's blueberry imports from Canada in 2015 were frozen
- Canadian exports to Japan of frozen cultivated blueberries have increased by 26.8% over the last five years at a compound annual growth rate of 6.1%.
- Canadian exports to Japan of fresh cultivated blueberries have decreased by 44.1% over the last five years, at a compound anual growth rate of −13.5%
Blueberries as a ingredient
Japan's innovation in food has produced blueberry gummies containing collagen and vitamin c, that claim to support beauty from within
- From 2012 to 2016, 640 products using blueberries as an ingredient were launched
- 69% of product launches were new products, variety, and range.
Japanese companies are launching an average of 130 blueberry products per year
|Company||Number of products launched|
|Ohayo Dairy Products||29|
Growing interest in naturally healthy foods
- No Additives/Preservatives
- Low/No/Reduced Sugar
- Beauty Benefits
- Low/No/Reduced Sodium
- Low/No/Reduced Allergen
- Low/No/Reduced Fat
- Low/No/Reduced Calorie
- Vitamin/Mineral Fortified
- High/Added Fiber
Increasing focus on convenient packaging
Top package type:
- Flexible stand-up pouch
Top packaging material:
- Plastic unspecified
- Board plastic lined
- Metallised film
- Plastic polypropylene (PP)
- Plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
Tenth largest innovative blueberry market in the world
|Innovation Criteria||United States||Canada||Germany||United Kingdom||South Korea||France||Australia||China||Italy||Japan|
|Product line diversity||14||11||12||10||10||8||8||9||8||10|
|Health and wellness claims||20||19||17||19||17||17||17||15||16||11|
|Rating scale: Excellent (20-17), Very good (16-13), Good (12-9), Fair (8-5), Low (4-0)|
87.7% of products launched were within the food category, while 7.4% were drinks and 4.9% were pet food
Factors of consideration
- Japanese companies are increasingly concerned about the cost of wild blueberries versus cultivated blueberries
- Whether Canadian exporters are seeking to export bulk blueberries or processed products that contain blueberries, Japanese customers will consider price (both the price itself and ability to supply at a consistent price over time), ability to supply consistently and to meet orders, packaging and overall look of the products, and willingness to adjust package sizes and labelling as required for the Japanese market.
Recommendation for entry
- Retailers or food processors will typically source from a Japanese importer/distributor, rather than import directly. Canadian exporters should be aware of this and be prepared for the need to find an importer/distributor for their products.
- Fresh/frozen/dried blueberries require a phytosanitary certificate from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and are subject to inspection by Japanese authorities under the Plant Protection Act.
- Fresh/frozen/dried/processed products must conform to the basic requirements of Japan's Food Sanitation Act, and processed products must also conform to regulations related to food additives
- Trade Commisionner Service
- Mintel Database
- Global Trade Tracker
- Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
How we can help
We offer multiple programs and services to help you achieve your international business goals, such as the Agri-Food Trade Service, AgriMarketing Program, and Canada Brand. International Trade Commissioners are also an excellent point of contact for export advice and can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions, and local business contacts.
Have we piqued your interest?
For more information on opportunities in Japan or to join our distribution list, contact Single Window at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out about our programs, services and tools to support your exporting efforts. Exporting from Canada.
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