Language selection

Search

Customized Report Service – Organic dairy products in Japan

March 2020

Executive summary

The consumption of dairy products is on the rise in Japan, especially among consumers 35 and under who continue to adopt a more western diet. However, the Japanese dairy sector is not able to meet the increasing demand. Owing to the aging of the population, the number of dairy farms (and consequently milk production) has been declining for several decades. As a result, domestic production is inadequate to meet demand, making Japan one of the largest importers of dairy products in the world.

The Japanese organic industry is seeing opportunities for growth in the organic market as consumer interest increases. The concept of organic products is beginning to take hold in Japanese culture, but there are still obstacles on the Japanese organic market, such as underdeveloped distribution channels and poorly informed consumers.

The domestic cheese market is continuing its upward trend, stimulated by growing demand for snack products and ingredients, as well as by increasing concern among consumers about their health.

The consumption of natural cheese has increased in the last few years, surpassing the overall growth in cheese consumption in Japan.

Production

The consumption of dairy products is on the rise in Japan, especially among consumers 35 and under who continue to adopt a more western diet. In response to the growing consumer preference for fresh dairy products, many Japanese dairy and beverage companies have increased the use of fluid milk in their production of prepared coffee beverages and other milk-based beverages. Japanese convenience store chains are expanding the range of dairy products on their shelves.

Growth in per capita average consumption of dairy products, in kilograms[1]
Year Japan United States
2008 34.6 74.7
2018 36.4 61.0

Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

1: Includes the following segments: butter and spreadable fats, cheese, cream, milk- and soy-based desserts, drinkable yogurt, flavoured milk, soy milk, soy beverages and yogurt.

However, domestic raw milk production has been declining for more than two decades. The Japanese agricultural industry (and the dairy sector in particular) is composed of an aging labour force and is having difficulty recruiting young farmers. Even as domestic supply declines, Japanese demand for dairy products continues to rise, making the country increasingly dependent on imports. Traditionally, Japan's main suppliers of dairy products have been the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union.

Milk production in Japan in thousands of tons
Month 2009 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
January 675.1 626.4 623.8 627.2 614.9 621.3
February 618.2 572.5 572.8 595.3 566.5 569.1
March 690.7 643.0 642.0 644.1 633.9 639.3
April 675.1 626.8 625.0 630.4 616.3 623.8
May 701.8 650.3 649.0 653.4 645.0 647.9
June 669.0 618.9 624.7 626.3 614.3 620.9
July 667.8 618.0 628.7 631.3 610.2 616.5
August 652.5 600.0 608.5 610.4 600.5 606.8
September 632.0 583.5 592.8 585.5 580.7 560.6
October 646.1 598.1 603.3 600.8 600.7 596.5
November 625.7 583.8 588.5 579.4 582.6 580.1
December 655.6 613.3 620.2 609.9 610.9 609.8
Total 7,909.5 7,334.5 7,379.2 7,393.7 7,275.5 7,292.5
Source Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Statistics on Milk and Dairy Products

Cheese

While cheese may not be a staple of Japanese cuisine, demand for cheese in Japan is constant and increasing. There is a growing trend for wine and cheese in culinary experiences, particularly in Japan. A cheese plate is typically paired with wine and is a luxury experience involving high-quality, strong-tasting cheeses. In addition, cheese is increasingly recognized as a healthy, high-protein food, and is therefore increasingly being consumed as a snack. The Japanese are familiar with western foods and demand for unique artisanal cheeses has skyrocketed.

Domestic cheese production in Japan (in tons), 1998 to 2018
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Year Production in tons
1998 123,729
2000 124,804
2002 124,946
2004 119,496
2006 124,186
2008 116,877
2010 127,029
2012 133,326
2014 136,223
2016 145,632
2018 157,000

Local and artisanal cheese

Description of this image follows. The number of cheese factories has increased throughout the country and the Japanese artisanal cheese scene is experiencing exponential growth, particularly in Hokkaido province, where the climate and geography are ideal for raising dairy cattle. One of the best known cheeses in Japan is Sakura (cherry blossom), a Camembert-style cheese that is matured on top of cherry blossom leaves, then garnished with pickled cherry blossoms. Sakura has been recognized both in Japan and abroad, winning gold medals at the Mountain Cheese Olympics in Switzerland.

However, the prices of raw milk - the main ingredient in cheese-making - have increased, adversely affecting the profitability of certain local cheese producers and establishments.

Butter

As is the case for other dairy products, Japanese consumers appear to be developing a preference for fresh butter. This is particularly noticeable in the convenience store chains, which are expanding their range of butter and butter products as well as new dairy products-based confectionaries on a quarterly basis.

Domestic butter production in Japan (in tons), 1998-2018
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Year Production (tons)
1998 88,111
2000 79,925
2002 79,598
2004 80,555
2006 78,001
2008 71,898
2010 70,119
2012 70,118
2014 61,652
2016 63,583
2018 59,000*
*: Estimate

Source: MAFF, Statistics on Milk and Dairy Products

However, in the last few years, Japan has experienced occasional butter shortages, due largely to the decline in milk production on dairy farms outside Hokkaido. These farms are generally smaller than those in northern Japan, and are therefore more vulnerable to external forces that can impact production. Because they do not have sufficient land to graze their herds, many of these farms depend on imported feed. And if the yen weakens, feed costs can skyrocket, which affects the economic viability of dairy farms and sometimes leads to closures. Raw milk from dairy farms located outside Hokkaido is primarily consumed locally as fluid milk. To offset the shortages of this milk, raw milk from the prefecture is shipped to the affected areas. The butter shortages in 2014 and 2015 were due to the fact that the milk shipped from Hokkaido was mainly used for fluid milk rather than butter production.

Since the supply of raw milk is declining, butter manufacturers are concentrating their production on the more lucrative retail table butter market, while institutional users, such as confectionary companies, are turning to imported butter to meet their ingredient needs.

Dairy products market

Historical data, dairy products market in Japan by category, retail sales value in US$ millions – fixed 2018 exchange rates
Category Sub-segment 2016 2017 2018 2019 CAGR* % 2016-2019
Butter and spreadable fats Margarine 57.3 57.6 60.8 63.2 3.3
Other butter 663.4 663.5 697.8 724.5 3.0
Other spreadable fats 170.2 170.0 179.1 185.8 3.0
Butter and spreadable fats - Total 890.9 891.1 937.8 973.5 3.0
Cheese Hard cheese (processed) 162.0 164.6 177.1 187.6 5.0
Pre-packaged 525.1 532.5 574.7 611.8 5.2
Snacking cheese 118.6 119.8 128.9 136.8 4.9
Spreadable (natural) 1,184.9 1,203.9 1,300.9 1,385.4 5.3
Spreadable (processed) 1,026.1 1,036.1 1,110.5 1,179.0 4.7
Non-spreadable (natural) 789.8 800.2 857.3 908.6 4.8
Non-spreadable (processed) 474.0 479.0 512.0 541.2 4.5
Cheese - Total 4,280.6 4,336.2 4,661.5 4,950.4 5.0
Cream Clotted cream 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.2 1.5
Fresh cream 134.0 131.8 136.7 140.7 1.6
Fresh double cream 62.2 61.3 63.8 65.6 1.8
Other (cream) 83.9 82.4 85.5 87.9 1.6
Single cream 102.8 101.0 104.8 107.7 1.6
Sour cream 128.8 126.7 131.5 135.4 1.7
Whipped cream 112.4 109.6 113.2 115.5 0.9
Cream - Total 629.0 617.5 640.6 658.0 1.5
Milk Flavoured milk drinks, chocolate only 47.8 46.1 47.3 48.0 0.1
Fat-free fresh/pasteurized milk 1,052.0 1,021.3 1,044.9 1,067.4 0.5
Fat-free UHT* long life milk 15.6 15.2 15.6 16.0 1.0
Flavoured evaporated milk 57.9 56.1 57.4 58.2 0.2
Fresh/pasteurized whole milk 1,060.8 1,038.1 1,072.8 1,097.4 1.1
Long life whole milk/UHT milk 15.6 15.1 15.5 15.9 0.7
Flavoured milk drinks - other flavours 576.2 559.5 573.4 583.4 0.4
Evaporated milk - unflavoured 58.1 56.2 57.5 58.4 0.2
Fresh/pasteurized partly skimmed milk 1 305.4 1 265.7 1 296.7 1 323.3 0.5
Long life partly skimmed milk/UHT milk 23.3 22.7 23.3 23.8 0.7
Unflavoured powdered milk 42.6 42.5 44.6 46.4 2.9
Milk - Total 4,255.3 4,138.5 4,248.9 4,338.1 0.6

Source: GlobalData, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

1: Ultra-high temperature processed milk products

Forecast data, dairy products market in Japan by category, retail sales value in US$ millions – fixed 2018 exchange rates
Category Sub-segment 2020 2021 2022 2023 CAGR* % 2020-2023
Butter and spreadable fats Margarine 64.6 65.8 67.2 68.7 2.1
Other butter 738.4 752.1 769.4 787.1 2.2
Other spreadable fats 190.5 194.7 199.4 204.5 2.4
Butter and spreadable fats - Total 993.5 1 012.6 1 036.1 1 060.3 2.2
Cheese Hard cheese (processed) 199.4 207.4 215.0 219.8 3.3
Pre-packaged 642.8 671.4 702.5 734.1 4.5
Snacking cheese 142.8 148.8 154.7 160.7 4.0
Spreadable (natural) 1,454.5 1,521.6 1,593.5 1,668.9 4.7
Spreadable (processed) 1,229.7 1,276.8 1,328.0 1,380.0 3.9
Non-spreadable (natural) 941.3 975.9 1,010.2 1,046.4 3.6
Non-spreadable (processed) 566.5 591.3 614.6 638.0 4.0
Cheese - Total 5 177.0 5 393.1 5 618.3 5 847.9 4.1
Cream Clotted cream 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 1.6
Fresh cream 142.7 144.6 147.0 149.5 1.6
Fresh double cream 66.9 69.0 69.2 70.4 1.7
Other (cream) 89.6 91.1 92.5 93.9 1.6
Single cream 109.7 111.6 113.6 115.8 1.8
Sour cream 137.7 139.6 141.6 143.8 1.5
Whipped cream 117.2 118.5 120.1 121.7 1.3
Cream - Total 669.1 678.6 689.5 700.7 1.6
Milk Flavoured milk drinks, chocolate only 48.0 48.3 48.6 49.2 0.8
Fat-free fresh/pasteurized milk 1,075.7 1,083.4 1,094.0 1,103.5 0.9
Long life UHT[1] milk 16.2 16.3 16.5 16.7 1.0
Flavoured evaporated milk 58.5 58.9 59.5 60.2 0.9
Fresh/pasteurized whole milk 1,113.0 1,125.3 1,139.3 1,154.0 1.2
Long life whole milk/UHT milk 16.0 16.1 16.3 16.5 1.0
Flavoured milk drinks - other flavours 585.4 588.4 594.5 602.4 1.0
Evaporated milk - unflavoured 58.7 59.2 59.7 60.3 0.9
Fresh/pasteurized partly skimmed milk 1,332.8 1,341.5 1,353.9 1,364.6 0.8
Long life partly skimmed milk/UHT milk 24.0 24.2 24.5 24.7 0.9
Unflavoured powdered milk 47.6 48.7 49.6 50.4 1.9
Milk - Total 4,410.1 4,456.2 4,502.4 1.0

Source: GlobalData, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

1: Ultra-high temperature processed milk products

Organic products

Promising outlook

Organic milk and other dairy products such as organic butter and cheese are still hard to find in traditional supermarkets outside Tokyo or Osaka. Nationwide, the Japanese organic dairy products market is still limited and there are significant obstacles to its expansion, such as limited domestic supply, which can be explained by the need to obtain JAS Organic certification, which entails additional costs associated with farm accreditation, product grading and analyses.

However, the past is no guarantee of the future, and there is growing interest in organic products among young Japanese consumers. Retail sales of certified organic dairy products in Japan are less than 2.5% (2018), but the prospects for growth are numerous and promising. Since the variety of local organic food supplies is still limited, there may be opportunities for imported organic food products.

Food services

Food service enterprises, which range from family chains to trendy cafés and high-end restaurants, are a potential growth sector. There are many organic cafés and retail stores opening up in downtown Tokyo and Osaka. Several department stores and high-end food retailers are offering organic food products. This emerging trend of new cafés and retail stores may not yet be significant in terms of sales volume, but it has strong appeal to young consumers and is helping to promote the concept of "organic product" to this consumer segment.

Event

Description of this image follows. The 17th International Organic Expo 2018 (which was held from August 30 to September 1) is an international trade show specializing in organic agriculture, with a focus on promoting organic products. More than 180 exhibitors participated in the show, which received more than 14,000 visitors during this three-day period.

Supermarkets

There are currently no large supermarket chains with a focus on organic products in Japan similar to Whole Foods Market in the United States. From a marketing perspective, the lack of a large national chain specializing in organic products is considered a factor limiting expansion of the customer base. While there are small organic chains opening up in Japan, such as "Natural House," the number and scale of these chains as well as the range of products available in these stores have not yet reached a level equivalent to the American market. However, in 2016, two large supermarket chains took the first steps toward trying to build organic store models in Japan. Other chains have also shown interest in the organic products market.

Aeon logo AEON, the largest supermarket chain in Japan, created Bio c'Bon Japan Co., Ltd, as a joint venture with Marne & Finance Europe, and opened its first organic "Bio c'Bon" store in Tokyo in December 2016. The store sells a variety of organic foods ranging from fresh products to dried fruits and nuts, juices, dairy products, snacks, etc. Following the success of this banner, additional "Bio c'Bon" organic supermarkets are being rolled out. According to Akitery Imai, marketing director for Bio c'Bon, the goal is to open 50 stores by the end of 2020.

Life Corporation logo Life Corporation (a large national supermarket chain in Japan) has opened its first organic and natural foods store,"BIO-RAL", in downtown Osaka. The store sells a variety of natural and organic food products as well as conventional products. According to BIO-RAL, the goal is to target customers seeking to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Online retailers

Rakuten logo Internet retail is also a growth area for organic products. Many local players in the organic products market, including those in the organic dairy products market, are focusing on online retailing to mitigate the impact of the high costs of traditional store distribution channels on profit margins, which are already affected by the higher costs of organic production.

The giants of Japanese e-commerce have recently (2014-2015) begun to offer organic dairy products. For example, the Rakuten e-commerce platform, which is one of the largest e-commerce sites in Japan and one of the largest in the world in terms of sales, is often called "the Amazon of Japan." These online platforms make it easy and convenient for Japanese consumers to buy imported dairy products such as cheese and butter.

Examples of organic products available on Rakuten

Organic mozzarella cheese

This USDA-certified organic mozzarella cheese (226 grams) sells for Can$23.56 (1,895 ¥). (The price includes the cost of home delivery in most major urban centres).

Natural butter

Butter from the city of Yokohama. This natural butter in a 200 gram format sells for Can$31.96 (2,571 ¥)*. (The price includes the cost of home delivery in most major urban centres).

Organic cheddar cheese

This United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-certified organic cheddar cheese (226 grams) sells for Can$24.50 (1,971 ¥). (The price includes the cost of home delivery in most major urban centres).

Two other online organic food suppliers, Oisix and Radish-Boya, are rapidly expanding their business operations.

Oisix Daichi logo For example, Oisix (Oisix Daichi Inc.), established in 2000, had up to 110,000 subscribers and posted $200 million in sales in 2016. It recently teamed up with another organic food supplier and is accelerating its growth.

adish Boya logo Radish Boya (Radishbo-ya Co., Ltd.), founded in 1988, works closely with a convenience store chain, a national supermarket chain and cooking schools, and is expanding its business outlets

Although these two companies focus primarily on fresh products grown in Japan, they are increasingly including imported food products and also provide a platform for imported organic food products.

Companies

Japan's main dairy processors include Meiji and Megmilk Snow Brand, which have been producing cheese since the early 1930s. Both companies produce natural cheeses such as Camembert and string cheese, as well as processed cheeses adapted to Japanese tastes.

Market share held by the main brands on the Japanese organic dairy products market, value in US$ millions, 2017
Company 2014 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
Meiraku Group 81.4 96.7 4.4%
Organic Valley Family of Farms 0.9 1.2 4.0%
Other 9.1 8.7 −1.2%
Private label 4.1 4.8 4.4%
Total 95.5 111.4 3.9%

Source: GlobalData, 2019

*CAGR: compound annual growth rate

Market share held by the main brands on the Japanese butter market, value in US$ millions, 2017
Brand owner Brand 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
CGC Group CGC 11.3 10.9 10.0 11.5 11.6
Calpis Calpis N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Honey-Butter Products Co., Inc. Downey's N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Koiwai Dairy Products Co., Ltd. Koiwai 7.0 6.8 6.3 7.5 7.6
Marinfood Co., Ltd Marinfood 18.5 17.9 16.3 18.9 18.9
Megmilk Snow Brand Co., Ltd. Neo Soft 63.9 61.2 56.2 65.0 65.0
Snow Brand 181.5 174.1 157.8 182.0 181.6
Snow Brand Hokkadio 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.5
Meiji Holdings Co., Ltd Meiji 93.7 91.2 82.6 96.2 96.8
Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. Morinaga 112.4 107.2 97.1 111.7 111.0
Other Other 19.4 13.5 10.8 13.1 13.8
Private label Private label 8.7 7.9 7.2 8.0 7.8
Yotsuba Milk Products Co., Ltd. Yotsuba 148.0 142.1 129.1 149.1 148.9
Butter - Total 664.9 633.2 573.8 663.4 663.5

Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

N/A: data not available

Note: Some of the companies listed above have products labelled "natural" or products whose ingredients are labelled "organic." However, their entire portfolio of products is not certified as organic.

Market share held by the main brands on the Japanese processed cheese market, value in US$ millions, 2017
Brand owner Brand 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Arla Dofino 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.6
Arthur Schuman, Inc. Messana 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.6
CGC Group CGC 48.5 47.7 44.1 52.0 52.9
Chesco Co., Ltd. Chesco 107.7 105.9 98.1 115.5 117.4
Fromageries Bel Boursin 30.6 30.2 28.0 33.0 33.6
Kiri 92.4 91.1 84.7 99.9 101.9
The Laughing Cow 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Isigny Sainte Mère Coopérative Isigny Ste Mère 1.0 1.0 0.9 1.0 1.1
Kaptein BV Royal Eyssen 1.2 1.2 1.1 1.3 1.3
Koiwai Dairy Products Co., Ltd. Koiwai 53.0 52.3 48.7 57.5 58.7
Megmilk Snow Brand Co., Ltd. Snow Brand - Other 378.5 372.0 344.5 405.4 412.2
Meiji Holdings Co., Ltd. Tokachi 67.6 66.7 62.0 73.3 74.8
Mondelez International, Inc. Kraft 29.9 29.6 27.5 32.5 32.8
Philadelphia 161.2 159.4 148.3 175.4 177.3
NH Foods Ltd. Rolf 74.2 72.9 67.4 79.3 80.6
Other Other 403.9 411.7 361.0 409.1 401.9
Private label Private label 67.5 68.1 64.7 77.8 80.8
Rokko Butter Co., Ltd. Q.B.B. 114.9 114.4 107.3 127.6 131.1
Roussas Dairy SA Roussas 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.9 1.0
Saputo Inc. Cheese Heads 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.4
Savencia SA Bresse 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.0 1.0
Caprice des Dieux 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.5
Coeur de Lion 0.9 0.9 0.8 1.0 1.0
Fol Epi 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2
Gerard 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Tartare 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.4 1.4
Sodiaal International Entremont 1.0 1.0 .9 1.1 1.1
Sonoma Creamery Sonoma Jack 1.8 1.8 1.6 1.9 2.0
Tillamook County Creamery Association Tillamook 1.7 1.6 1.5 1.8 1.8
Tokyo Dairy Co., Ltd. Tokyo Dairy 16.8 16.9 16.1 19.3 20.1
Uhrenholt A/S Friendship 5.6 5.5 5.1 6.0 6.2
Processed cheese - total 1,667.9 1,660.3 1,521.9 1,780.7 1,799.6

Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

Note: Some of the companies listed above have products labelled "natural" or products whose ingredients are labelled "organic." However, their entire portfolio of products is not certified as organic.

Market share held by the main brands on the Japanese natural cheese market, value in US$ millions, 2017
Brand owner Brand 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Arla Arla Dofino 3.1 3.0 2.8 3.3 3.3
Castello N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Beemster Cheese Beemster N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
BelGioioso Cheese Inc. BelGioioso 13.5 13.1 12.1 14.1 14.3
CGC Group CGC 2.7 2.6 2.4 2.8 2.9
Chesco Co., Ltd. Chesco 50.2 49.4 45.7 53.8 54.8
Fonterra Anchor 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.7
Igor Group Igor Gorgonzola N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Koiwai Dairy Products Co., Ltd. Koiwai 3.1 3.0 2.8 3.4 3.4
Latticini Italia S.r.l. Latbri 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.5 1.6
Lawson, Inc. Lawson Select N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Mastellone Hermanos SA Finlandia 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.4 0.4
Megmilk Snow Brand Co., Ltd. Snow Brand - Others 255.5 251.1 232.6 273.7 278.5
Snow Brand Hokkadio 378.2 372.0 344.6 405.7 413.1
Meiji Holdings Co., Ltd. Meiji 284.4 278.1 256.4 300.6 304.7
Tokachi 73.5 72.6 67.5 79.7 81.4
Mondelez International, Inc. Kraft 125.6 124.2 115.3 136.2 138.2
Philadelphia 8.3 8.3 7.7 9.1 9.2
NH Foods Ltd. Rolf 80.7 79.3 73.3 86.3 87.7
Nuova Castelli SpA Castelli 1.1 1.1 1.0 1.2 1.2
Organic Valley Family of Farms Organic Valley 0.5 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.5
Other Other 786.3 740.8 672.3 780.6 783.9
Private label Private label 94.4 95.3 90.5 108.8 113.0
Rokko Butter Co., Ltd Q.B.B. 160.6 160.0 150.0 178.4 183.5
Rondin Papillon Papillon 0.4 0.4 0.3 0.4 0.4
Roussas Dairy SA Roussas 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
Royal FrieslandCampina N.V. Frico N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Saputo Inc. Frigo 15.9 15.5 14.3 16.7 16.9
Savencia SA Coeur de Lion 3.2 3.1 2.9 3.3 3.4
Gerard 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Tartare 7.7 7.5 6.9 8.1 8.2
Tokyo Dairy Co., Ltd. Tokyo Dairy - Overall 23.4 23.7 22.5 27.0 28.1
Uhrenholt A/S Friendship 2.5 2.4 2.2 2.6 2.6
Natural cheese - total 2,378.1 2,310.1 2,129.6 2,499.9 2,536.6

Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

N/A: data not available

Note: Some of the companies listed above have products labelled "natural" or products whose ingredients are labelled "organic." However, their entire portfolio of products is not certified as organic.

Market share held by the main brands on the Japanese margarine and spreadable fats market, value in US$ millions, 2017
Brand owner Brand 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
CGC Group CGC 3.8 3.6 3.3 3.8 3.9
Koiwai Dairy Products Co., Ltd. Koiwai 3.4 3.4 3.1 3.7 3.7
Koiwai Farm N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Lawson, Inc. Lawson Select N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Marinfood Co., Ltd Marinfood 5.5 5.3 4.9 5.6 5.6
Megmilk Snow Brand Co., Ltd. Neo Soft 7.1 6.8 6.2 7.2 7.2
Snow Brand 41.5 38.3 34.7 39.1 38.1
Snow Brand Hokkadio 3.5 3.6 3.3 4.0 4.1
Meiji Holdings Co., Ltd Meiji 57.4 55.9 50.7 58.9 59.3
Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. Morinaga 55.4 52.8 47.8 55.0 54.6
Other Other 40.1 36.2 32.4 38.0 38.5
Private label Private label 10.8 11.0 10.0 12.0 12.4
Unilever Rama N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Margarine and spreadable fats - Total 228.7 217.0 196.6 227.5 227.6

Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

N/A: data not available

Note: Some of the companies listed above have products labelled "natural" or products whose ingredients are labelled "organic." However, their entire portfolio of products is not certified as organic.

Exports and requirements

Standards

For organic dairy products, Japan currently has a voluntary standard for organically farmed products, including organic dairy products. Any organic dairy product, whether locally produced or imported, can be declared organic. If a company or a Japanese importer chooses to have its organic dairy products certified under the JAS, these products can bear the JAS organic logo. Imported products can bear the organic logos of the foreign countries in which the products are certified organic. Canadian companies wishing to use the JAC organic logo in Japan will have to collaborate with their Japanese importer to have their organic dairy products certified according to the JAS voluntary standard.

Equivalence

Canada has signed an organic equivalence arrangement with Japan (JCOEA). This means that, as long as the terms of the arrangement are met, products certified as organic in Japan or in Canada can be sold as organic in either country.

Japan Agricultural Standards logo The production and distribution of organic foods in Japan are governed by the JAS (Japan Agricultural Standards) Law. In order for food products to be labelled and sold as organic in Japan they must hold JAS Organic certification and display the JAS Organic label (opposite) on each product.

The following Canadian organic products are covered under the JCOEA and must bear the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) seal to be sold in Japan. These products may also use the "Canada Organic" logo in compliance with the Organic Products Regulations.

Canadian exporters may apply the JAS logo to their plants or plant-based processed products in one of two ways:

  1. Canadian exporters who have a contract with a JAS-certified importer may apply the JAS logo to their products directly for sale in either Japan or Canada. To view the list of JAS-certified importers, see Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries - Organic Foods.
  2. Canadian exporters who do not have a contract with a JAS-certified importer may not apply the JAS logo to their products prior to export. A JAS-certified importer must import the product, and that importer must apply the JAS logo to the product prior to sale within Japan.

Canadian organic products exported to Japan under the JCOEA must be accompanied by a valid organic certificate issued by a CFIA-accredited certification body. In addition, a document including the relevant information from Article 35 of the Enforcement Regulations for the Law Concerning Standardization and Proper Labelling of Agricultural and Forest Products - PDF (111 kb) has to accompany each shipment. This document has to be completed by the CFIA-accredited certification body.

Quotas

The quota system for dairy products is very complex, but dairy products (including organic products) are controlled by the MAFF and by the Agriculture & Livestock Industries Corporation (ALIC). According to their website, the MAFF and ALIC import a certain quantity of dairy products in accordance with the WTO (World Trade Organization) agreement and sell them on the market.

To account for the price differential between imported dairy products and domestic dairy products, ALIC buys the dairy products imported by the private sector and immediately sells them back, which allows ALIC to collect mark-ups which are paid into a fund for stability management measures in favour of producers of milk intended for processing.

In order to access Japan's quotas, exporters should contact the Japanese importers that hold an import licence issued by the Japanese government according to the principle of first come, first served.

The Canada Tariff Finder allows Canadian exporters to verify the tariffs applicable to a given product and focuses on countries with which Canada has concluded a free trade agreement, such as Japan.

Scheduled tariff reductions for certain Canadian cheese products exported to Japan
HS Code Most Favoured Nation[1] 2019 2022 2025 2030 2033
(HS: 0406.10) - Fresh (unripened or uncured) cheese, including whey cheese, and curd (HS: 0406.10.02.0) - A dry matter content, by weight, not exceeding 48%, chopped not exceeding 4 g per each, frozen, in immediate packing, of a content exceeding 5 kilograms (kg) 22.4% 19.6% 15.4% 11.2% 4.2% Free
(HS:0406.10.09.0) - Fresh (unripened or uncured) cheese, including whey cheese, and curd - Other) 29.8% 26.0% 20.4% 14.9% 5.5% Free
(HS: 0406.20) - Cheese, grated or powdered, of all kinds (HS: 0406.20.10.01) - Processed cheese 40.0% 35.0% 27.5% 20.0% 7.5% Free
(HS: 0406.20.20.0) - Other 26.3% 23.0% 18.0% 13.1% 4.9% Free
(HS: 0406.40) - Blue-veined cheese and other cheese containing veins produced by "Penicillium roqueforti" (HS: 0406.40.09.0) - Other 29.8% 27.0% 23.0% 18.9% 14.9% N/A

Source: Canada Tariff Finder, 2019

1: Japan's Most Favoured Nation (MFN) tariff rates are generally applicable to imports from all countries that are Members of the World Trade Organization. The Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) entered into force on December 30, 2018. The preferential tariff information for the current year and for subsequent years is provided based on Japan's commitments under this agreement. Tariff preferences under CPTPP apply to goods imported from Canada that meet the rules of origin under this agreement. The MFN tariff rates of Japan apply to goods imported from Canada that do not meet the rules of origin (non-originating goods) under CPTPP. Year 1 for Japan starts December 30th, 2018 and ends March 31st, 2019, Year 2 starts April 1, 2019, and ends March 31, 2020, and the same for the following years.

Japanese imports

Japanese imports of cheese and butter products - in Can$ millions, 2014 to 2018
Product 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
Cheese - Total 1,312.3 1,341.8 1,294.5 1,507.3 1,676.3 6.3
Cheese (excluding fresh cheese, including whey cheese, curd, processed cheese, blue-veined cheese and other cheese containing veins produced by "Penicillium roqueforti", and grated or powdered cheese) (HS: 040690) 755.8 734.1 723.4 880.7 966.3 6.3
Fresh (unripened or uncured) cheese, including whey cheese, and curd (HS: 040610) 423.5 491.2 447.9 502.8 565.9 7.5
Cheese, grated or powdered, of all kinds (HS: 040620) 73.4 64.6 63.1 61.1 68.9 −1.6
Processed cheese, not grated or powdered (HS: 040630) 44.8 35.2 44.1 47.3 57.2 6.3
Blue-veined cheese and other cheese containing veins produced by "Penicillium roqueforti" (HS: 040640) 14.9 16.7 16.1 15.5 18.0 4.9
Butter - Total 57.1 73.8 60.6 61.5 123.5 21.3
Butter (excluding dehydrated butter and ghee) (HS: 040510) 54.1 70.9 58.1 58.1 119.5 21.9
Fats and oils derived from milk, and dehydrated butter and ghee (excluding natural butter, recombined butter and whey butter) (HS: 040590) 2.9 3.0 2.5 3.4 4.0 8.4

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

Japanese imports of cheese products, 15 main exporters, in CA$ millions
Country 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
World 1,312.3 1,341.8 1,294.5 1,507.3 1,676.3 6.3
Australia 390.2 425.5 381.3 412.0 460.2 4.2
New Zealand 289.9 283.1 285.3 317.8 340.1 4.1
United States 270.1 224.4 167.4 188.1 202.2 −7.0
Netherlands 38.3 74.6 86.3 126.4 142.8 38.9
Italy 97.1 92.3 99.0 112.5 118.0 5.0
Denmark 60.2 61.4 76.9 103.7 115.0 17.6
France 83.2 76.7 84.3 92.2 108.6 6.9
Germany 36.4 50.8 54.6 77.0 84.2 23.3
Ireland 8.3 14.4 17.1 32.3 48.4 55.6
Argentina 16.8 15.8 14.0 13.3 21.8 6.7
Switzerland 9.0 9.2 9.5 10.2 12.4 8.2
Finland 0.4 0.6 6.4 3.8 6.5 104.8
Belgium 4.0 6.8 5.2 5.7 3.5 −3.1
Estonia 0.0 0.1 0.2 2.2 3.0 N/C
United Kingdom 1.6 1.8 1.8 2.0 3.0 16.4

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

N/C: non-calculable

Japanese imports of butter products, 10 main exporters, in Can$ millions
Country 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
World 57.1 73.8 60.6 61.5 123.5 21.3
New Zealand 27.3 47.0 26.9 28.8 66.8 25.1
Netherlands 14.3 9.9 15.2 14.2 22.8 12.4
Germany 4.2 7.8 9.2 7.0 12.6 32.1
France 2.6 4.4 6.0 7.5 10.2 40.4
United States 6.4 0.6 0.1 0.4 3.8 −12.3
Argentina 0.0 2.3 0.3 0.1 2.6 N/C
Switzerland 0.0 0.4 1.5 0.4 2.0 N/C
Belgium 0.2 0.1 0.1 1.7 1.1 54.2
Australia 2.0 0.8 0.7 0.4 0.5 −27.9
Denmark 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.5 66.9

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

N/C: non-calculable

Quantity

Japanese imports of cheese and butter products - in thousands of kilograms, 2014 to 2018
Product 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
Cheese - Total 231,950.0 249,285.2 257,584.0 272,771.6 285,700.5 5.3
Cheese (excluding fresh cheese, including whey cheese, curd, processed cheese, blue-veined cheese and other cheese containing veins produced by "Penicillium roqueforti", and grated or powdered cheese) (HS: 040690) 133,240.8 137,851.9 15,1701.9 165,322.0 175,201.0 7.1
Fresh (unripened or uncured) cheese, including whey cheese, and curd (HS: 040610) 84,104.1 98,941.0 92,565.0 94,104.1 96,600.9 3.5
Processed cheese, not grated or powdered (HS: 040630) 6,233.1 5,499.9 7,001.0 7,309.9 7,313.9 4.1
Cheese, grated or powdered, of all kinds (HS: 040620) 7,385.4 5,807.6 5,195.8 4,953.0 5,406.0 −7.5
Blue-veined cheese and other cheese containing veins produced by "Penicillium roqueforti" (HS: 040640) 986.6 1,184.8 1,120.3 1,082.6 1,178.8 4.5
Butter - Total 11,251.3 16,096.6 12,479.2 8,167.5 15,531.8 8.4
Butter (excluding dehydrated butter and ghee) (HS: 040510) 10,914.5 15,793.5 12,226.4 7,898.6 15,259.8 8.7
Fats and oils derived from milk, and dehydrated butter and ghee (excluding natural butter, recombined butter and whey butter) (HS: 040590) 336.8 303.1 252.8 268.9 272.0 −5.2

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

Japanese imports of cheese products - in thousands of kilograms, 2014 to 2018
Country 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
World 231,950.0 249,285.2 257,584.0 272,771.6 285,700.5 5.3
Australia 79,443.8 89,437.2 86,001.4 82,953.3 83,043.2 1.1
New Zealand 55,459.2 57,118.1 61,294.5 62,633.9 62,214.1 2.9
United States 51,002.8 37,043.3 28,925.6 31,616.4 33,256.1 −10.1
Netherlands 7,003.5 17,711.0 22,235.9 27,550.8 30,201.0 44.1
Denmark 7,852.5 10,041.3 13,764.7 16,825.8 18,607.1 24.1
Germany 6,867.8 12,018.5 14,262.2 16,181.2 18,173.6 27.5
France 8,861.8 8,628.3 10,021.2 10,877.5 11,316.0 6.3
Italy 8,275.9 8,383.4 9,045.1 10,313.8 10,104.0 5.1
Ireland 1,462.2 2,858.5 4,109.5 6,834.7 9,474.8 59.5
Argentina 3,212.9 3,372.5 3,607.3 2,640.1 4,534.5 9.0
Finland 39.8 77.2 1,808.8 843.1 1,431.7 144.8
Switzerland 541.5 507.5 536.5 578.8 739.4 8.1
Belgium 708.9 1,405.2 1,056.6 1,033.1 710.7 0.1
Estonia 0.0 24.0 60.0 503.8 696.4 N/C
Latvia 0.0 21.9 241.8 219.9 307.8 N/C

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

N/C: non-calculable

Japanese imports of cheese products - in thousands of kilograms, 2014 to 2018
Country 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 CAGR* % 2014-2018
World 11,251.3 16,096.6 12,479.2 8,167.5 15,531.8 8.4
New Zealand 6,103.2 11,312.9 6,110.5 4,108.0 9,021.2 10.3
Netherlands 2,651.7 2,006.8 3,253.1 2,000.1 2,815.3 1.5
Germany 636.7 1,328.4 1,808.4 860.6 1,401.0 21.8
France 170.4 481.7 760.4 665.9 913.9 52.2
United States 1,297.3 99.7 10.1 28.8 507.8 −20.9
Argentina 0.0 582.9 52.6 16.9 392.4 N/C
Switzerland 0.0 73.6 279.3 47.0 210.0 N/C
Belgium 26.3 26.2 27.3 287.4 106.2 41.8
Australia 353.4 118.2 118.6 50.3 59.8 −35.9
Denmark 7.5 10.2 19.1 32.2 46.8 57.9

Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2019

*CAGR: Compound annual growth rate

N/C: non-calculable

Challenges

Cheese producers (PDF) in Australia, New Zealand and in European countries have established a quality image on the Japanese market with a wide variety of products. In order to compete with European and Oceanian products, artisanal cheese products and cheeses that have won competitions can attract upscale Japanese consumers.

Furthermore, under the Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union (EU) (July 2018), Japan will eliminate customs duties on approximately 94% of all imports from the 28 countries of the economic block by 2035, which will allow Japanese consumers to enjoy less expensive European cheese products.

Retail price analysis

Butter

Examples of current prices of butter products on the Japanese market
Name of main product Retailer Price (US dollars) Quantity Units Type of packaging Brand name Reference date (2019)
Hotel Margarine - Spreadable; 1 kg (1 unit) The Flying Pig (FP) 5.38 1 Kilogram Individual pack Hotel Margarine May 26
Meiji - Hokkaido; 200 grams (4 units) The Flying Pig (FP) 16.33 200 Grams Multi-pack Meiji May 26
Meiji - Unsalted; Hokkaido; 200 grams (2 units) The Flying Pig (FP) 9.79 200 Grams Multi-pack Meiji May 26
Rama - Butter; 300 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.51 300 Grams Individual pack Rama May 8
Snow Brand - 0% Fat; 160 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.29 160 Grams Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Koiwai Farm - Fermentation; Margarine; 180 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.66 180 Grams Individual pack Koiwai Farm May 8
Meiji - Butter 50% Blend; 140 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.66 140 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 8
Meiji - Garlic Soft; Tube; 90 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.28 90 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 8
Meiji - Margarine; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.65 200 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 8
Meiji - Tube 1/3; 160 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.32 160 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 8
Yotsuba - Salted; 150 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.66 150 Grams Individual pack Yotsuba May 8
Meiji - Butter; 160 grams (3 units) HiloMarket (YOYONEW) 8.42 160 Grams Multi-pack Meiji February 24
Meiji - Butter; Unsalted; 200 grams (2 units) HiloMarket (YOYONEW) 9.46 200 Grams Multi-pack Meiji February 24
Meiji - Spreadable; 150 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.75 150 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 26
Megmilk Snow Brand - Unsalted; Butter; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.98 200 Grams Individual pack Megmilk Snow Brand May 8
Meiji - Butter; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.68 200 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 8
Meiji - Unsalted; Butter; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.96 200 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 8
Nuttelex - Buttery Spread; Olive Oil; 1 kg (1 unit) HiloMarket (YOYONEW) 8.96 1 Kilogram Individual pack Nuttelex February 24
Seiyu - Butter; 300 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.39 300 Grams Individual pack Seiyu May 8
Seiyu - Unsalted; Butter; 150 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.95 150 Grams Individual pack Seiyu May 8
Meiji - Butter; Soft; 280 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.56 280 Grams Individual pack Meiji May 26
Snow Brand Megumiruku - Hokkaido; Butter; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.61 100 Grams Individual pack Snow Brand Megumiruku May 26
Snow Brand Megumiruku - Milky; Soft; 140 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.83 140 Grams Individual pack Snow Brand Megumiruku May 26
Yotsuba - Hokkaido Milk; Butter; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.57 100 Grams Individual pack Yotsuba May 26
Seiyu original - Hokkaido; Butter; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.04 200 Grams Individual pack Seiyu original May 26
Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

Cheese

Examples of current prices of cheese products on the Japanese market
Name of main product Retailer Price (US dollars) Quantity Type of packaging Brand name Reference date (2019)
Boursin - Garlic & Herbs; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 4.43 100 Individual pack Boursin May 8
Igor - Gorgonzola; 150 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 5.35 150 Individual pack IGOR May 8
Kiri - Cream & Cheese; 180 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.68 180 Individual pack Kiri May 8
Kraft - Cheese; 148 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.29 148 Individual pack Kraft May 8
Philadelphia - Cream & Cheese; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.96 200 Individual pack Philadelphia May 8
Snow Brand - Camembert; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.68 100 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Cream & Cheese; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.08 100 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Low Fat; Cottage Cheese; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.18 100 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Mascarpone; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.08 100 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Kraft - Melting; Slices; 75 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 0.88 75 Individual pack Kraft May 8
Kraft - Slices; 75 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 0.88 75 Individual pack Kraft May 8
Kraft - World Select; Cheddar; 119 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.95 119 Individual pack Kraft February 26
Snow Brand - 6P Cheese; 108 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.75 108 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Baby Cheese; 4 Pieces; 48 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 0.97 48 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Cottage Cheese; 200 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 3.65 200 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Mild; Grated; 50 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 2.38 50 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Pepper; 50 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.39 50 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - Salt; 6P; 108 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.84 108 Individual pack Snow Brand March 17
Snow Brand - Smoked; 50 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.39 50 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Snow Brand - String; 50 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 1.39 50 Individual pack Snow Brand May 8
Coeur de Lion - Mini Camembert; 25 grams (10 units) The Flying Pig (FP) 10.15 25 Multi-pack Coeur de lion May 8
Friendship Dairies - Danablu Classic; 100 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 4.61 100 Individual pack Friendship Dairies May 8
Gerard - Cheese Blue; 125 grams (1 unit) Seiyu (SEU) 5.17 125 Individual pack Gerard May 8
Sonoma Jack - Assorted; 907 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 22.16 907 Individual pack Sonoma Jack February 24
Bandon - Cheddar; Medium; 1.13 kg (1 unit) HiloMarket 18.25 1.13 Individual pack Bandon February 24
BelGioissio - Natural; Mozzarella; 907 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 26.34 907 Individual pack BelGioissio February 24
BelGioissio - Provolone; Mild; 907 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 18.29 907 Individual pack BelGioissio February 24
BelGioissio - Ricotta Con Latte; Whole Milk; 453 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 8.24 453 Individual pack BelGioissio February 24
Coeur de Lion - Mini Camembert; 25 grams (10 units) HiloMarket 12.06 25 Multi-pack Coeur de lion February 24
Coeur de Lion - Cow Milk; 200 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 11.42 200 Individual pack Coeur de lion February 24
Formaggio - Mozzarella; Marinated; 680 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 24.52 680 Individual pack Formaggio February 24
Isigny Ste Mère - 12 Months; French; Mimolette; 300 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 17.11 300 Individual pack Isigny Ste Mère February 24
Isigny Ste Mère - Camembert; 250 grams (2 units) HiloMarket 21.11 250 Multi-pack Isigny Ste Mère February 24
Isigny Ste Mère - Signature; French Brie; 380 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 17.52 380 Individual pack Isigny Ste Mère February 24
Kirkland Signature - Cheddar; Sharp; White; 907 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 11.24 907 Individual pack Kirkland Signature February 24
Kirkland Signature - Grana Padano; Aged 18 Months; 700 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 25.94 700 Individual pack Kirkland Signature February 24
Kirkland Signature - Parmigiano Reggiano; Aged 24 Months; 750 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 36.72 750 Individual pack Kirkland Signature February 24
Kirkland Signature - Parmigiano Reggiano; Aged 36 Months; 750 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 43.32 750 Individual pack Kirkland Signature February 24
Meiji - Camembert; 100 grams (4 units) HiloMarket 16.33 100 Multi-pack Meiji February 24
Murakawa - Gouda; 800 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 17.65 800 Individual pack Murakawa February 24
Philadelphia - Cream; 200 grams (3 units) HiloMarket 12.24 200 Multi-pack Philadelphia February 24
Raskas - Cream & Cheese; 1.36 kg (1 unit) HiloMarket 15.06 1.36 Individual pack Raskas February 24
Rolf - Processed; Slices; 1.3 kg (1 unit) HiloMarket 18.43 1.3 Individual pack Rolf February 24
Strahl - Fondue; Original; Swiss; 200 grams (2 units) HiloMarket 12.51 200 Multi-pack Strahl February 24
Tillamook - Natural; 907 grams (1 unit) HiloMarket 19.75 907 Individual pack Tillamook February 24
Tillamook - Natural; Monterrey Jack; 1.13 kg (1 unit) HiloMarket 19.61 1.13 Individual pack Tillamook February 24
Valembert - Camembert; 110 grams (2 units) HiloMarket 7.7 110 Multi-pack Valembert December 13
Source: GlobalData Intelligence, 2019

Product launch analysis

Consumer profile
Consumer preferences Advice
  • Japanese consumers are very concerned about food safety and traceability
  • They are well-educated and knowledgeable about food
  • Canada enjoys a positive image in the eyes of Japanese consumers
  • Emphasize clear labels, products with a limited number of ingredients and few food additives
  • They are very brand-conscious
  • Japanese consumers accord great importance to the quality and aesthetic appearance of products
  • Do not under-estimate the importance of these factors in the presentation of your products
  • Emphasize products packaged and presented according to local tastes
  • They are increasingly health-conscious
  • The average Japanese consumer eats smaller portions than the average Canadian consumer
  • Emphasize portions adapted to Japanese consumers
  • Japanese consumers look for food products in practical packaging
  • Avoid bulk packaging or packaging with awkward dimensions which are often deemed impractical

In response to the growing interest of Japanese consumers for all dairy products, since 1998, an increasing number of new cheese and butter-based products have been launched on the Japanese market.

Number of new cheese and butter products launched in Japan, between 2014 and May 2018
Category 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total
Processed cheese 36 27 27 43 51 184
Margarine and other blends 7 12 8 10 27 64
Hard and semi-hard cheese 10 2 8 8 10 38
Soft cheese for desserts 8 0 6 10 12 36
Soft and semi-soft cheese 8 1 5 3 9 26
Fresh cheese and cream cheese 7 1 2 0 3 13
Butter 1 4 2 2 4 13
Sample total 77 47 58 76 116 374
Source: Mintel, 2019
Number of new cheese and butter products launched in Japan between 1998 and 2018
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Date Published Number of Variants
1998 49
1999 50
2000 42
2001 24
2002 27
2003 25
2004 40
2005 40
2006 32
2007 35
2008 42
2009 72
2010 51
2011 78
2012 54
2013 71
2014 77
2015 47
2016 58
2017 76
2018 116
Total Sample 1,106

Source: Mintel, 2019

Number of new cheese and butter products launched in Japan, by launch type, between 2014 and May 2018
Category New variety/range extension Relaunch New packaging New product Total
Processed cheese 98 39 37 10 184
Margarine and other blends 14 40 8 2 64
Hard and semi-hard cheese 17 12 6 3 38
Soft cheese for desserts 18 9 1 8 36
Soft and semi-soft cheese 13 4 9 0 26
Fresh cheese and cream cheese 3 4 6 0 13
Butter 3 2 6 2 13
Sample total 166 110 73 25 374
Source: Mintel, 2019
Top 15 companies and parent companies operating in Japan for cheese and butter products, 2014 to 2018- Part 1
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Company 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total Sample
Aeon 11 7 10 10 17 55
Megmilk Snow Brand 1 7 7 12 26 53
Meiji 8 7 6 6 14 41
Rokko Butter 0 0 0 20 11 31
Megmilk Snow 19 6 1 0 0 26
Koiwai Dairy Products 12 2 7 3 1 25
Seven & i Holdings 7 1 6 5 5 24
Natori 1 1 3 0 17 22
Morinaga Milk Industry 5 6 4 0 2 17
Kraft Foods 0 0 6 6 2 14
Lawson 0 0 3 4 4 11
Hoko 3 2 2 1 2 10
J-Oil Mills 2 3 0 1 2 8
Bel 0 1 1 2 3 7
Rokkō Butter 0 0 0 3 3 6
Sous total 69 42 55 68 103 337
Total Sample 77 47 58 76 116 374

Source: Mintel, 2019

Top 15 companies and parent companies operating in Japan for cheese and butter products, 2014 to 2018 - Part 2
Companies 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Total
Aeon 11 7 10 10 17 55
Megmilk Snow Brand 1 7 7 12 26 53
Meiji 8 7 6 6 14 41
Rokko Butter 0 0 0 20 11 31
Megmilk Snow 19 6 1 0 0 26
Koiwai Dairy Products 12 2 7 3 1 25
Seven & i Holdings 7 1 6 5 5 24
Natori 1 1 3 0 17 22
Morinaga Milk Industry 5 6 4 0 2 17
Kraft Foods 0 0 6 6 2 14
Lawson 0 0 3 4 4 11
Hoko 3 2 2 1 2 10
J-Oil Mills 2 3 0 1 2 8
Bel 0 1 1 2 3 7
Rokkō Butter 0 0 0 3 3 6
Sub-total 69 42 55 68 103 337
Sample total 77 47 58 76 116 374

Source: Mintel, 2019

Top 15 companies and parent companies operating in Japan by new product category, 2014 to 2018
Companies Processed cheese Margarine and other blends Hard and semi-hard cheese Soft cheese for desserts Soft and semi-soft cheese Fresh cheese and cream cheese Butter Total
Aeon 22 8 15 0 4 2 4 55
Megmilk Snow Brand 18 26 4 0 3 1 1 53
Meiji 15 8 6 4 7 0 1 41
Rokko Butter 15 0 2 12 2 0 0 31
Megmilk Snow 16 5 0 2 3 0 0 26
Koiwai Dairy Products 21 3 0 0 0 0 1 25
Seven & i Holdings 13 1 5 0 3 1 1 24
Natori 22 0 0 0 0 0 0 22
Morinaga Milk Industry 7 0 2 0 2 5 1 17
Kraft Foods 1 0 3 9 1 0 0 14
Lawson 7 2 1 0 0 0 1 11
Hoko 10 0 0 0 0 0 0 10
J-Oil Mills 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 8
Bel 6 0 0 0 0 1 0 7
Rokkō Butter 3 0 0 3 0 0 0 6
Sub-total 176 61 38 30 25 10 10 350
Sample total 184 64 38 36 26 13 13 374

Source: Mintel, 2019

The average understanding of Japanese consumers concerning the extent of the benefits of products claiming to be organic is still relatively low, especially outside the main urban centres. There is some confusion in the minds of Japanese consumers in terms of differentiating between products claiming to be organic and those claiming to be made with "natural" ingredients. During the reference period (2014-2018), to capture the attention of the Japanese consumer, the industry diversified the claims on the packaging of butter and cheese products in Japan (Graph 1). However, when it comes to stressing claims concerning the benefits and origin of their ingredients, the "natural" label is heavily used (Graph 2). With the increasing popularity of organic products, especially among young consumers (34 and under), it is expected that dairy products that claim to be organic or to contain organic ingredients will occupy an increasing market share on the Japanese market.

10 main claims on the packaging of select products (cheese and butter) in Japan, 2014-2018 (Graph 1)
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Claim Number of variants
Convenient packaging 37
Limited Edition 32
High-end products 28
Economical (low price) 23
Easy to eat 20
Low/nil/calorie reduced 19
No additives/preservatives 16
Low/no/low fat 14
Low/no/reduced transformer 14
Low/no/low cholesterol 14
Total Sample 374

Source: Mintel, 2019

*: Some products may claim multiple benefits and/or functionalities.

10 main claims concerning the properties of the ingredients in certain products (cheese and butter) in Japan, 2014-2018 (Graph 2)
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Ingredient claim Number of variants
Natural 244
Vegetable-based 106
Sugar-based 54
Soy derivative 31
Origin (geographical appellation) 30
Others 14

Source: Mintel, 2019

*: Some products may claim multiple benefits and/or functionalities.

Perceptions

Japanese consumers are concerned about the value of products in terms of price and quality. Products must meet or exceed consumer expectations. Consumers are willing to pay more for high-end products provided that the value and quality meet their expectations relative to the price.

In comparison to the U.S. market, the trend for organic and natural foods has not until quite recently generated much enthusiasm on the part of the average Japanese consumer, partly because of their strong confidence in domestic products and perception of their quality. Consequently, until quite recently, they were less inclined to pay more for foods certified as organic. However, the organic products market is evolving quickly and Japanese consumers (particularly young consumers 34 and under) are increasingly aware of the benefits related to organic foods and are therefore increasingly willing to pay more for foods certified as organic.

Consumer perceptions: What benefits do you associate with "local" or "locally produced" products? (2017)
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Response category Total % of total
Higher quality 235 34%
Fresher 489 70%
Healthier/more nutritious 164 23%
Safer (food control) 278 40%
Benefits for local farmers/local economy 410 59%
Improved worker safety 78 11%
Promotes fair trade practices 75 11%
Improved traceability 65 9%
Cheaper 183 26%
Lower carbon footprint 62 9%
Better for the environment 120 17%
None of the above 50 7%
Total 700 100%

Source: GlobalData 2017 Q4 Consumer Survey - JAPAN - Question List *This survey of 700 individuals in Japan was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2017. The respondents may have associated several categories with the question asked.

Consumer perceptions: What does the term “organic” mean to you? (2017)
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Response categories Total % of total
Healthy food 301 43%
Natural food 397 57%
Local product 86 12%
Fresh 110 16%
Sustainable (environment) 36 5%
Safe (food control) 251 36%
Better quality 131 19%
Fewer or no additives 312 45%
Better tasting 51 7%
Fewer or no added pesticides/ chemicals 316 45%
Better for the environment 151 22%
More expensive 175 25%
None of the above 65 9%
Total 700 100%

Source: GlobalData 2017 Q4 Consumer Survey - JAPAN - Question List *This survey of 700 individuals in Japan was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2017. The respondents may have associated several categories with the question asked.

Consumer perceptions: What does "healthy food" mean to you? (2017)
Description of this image follows.
Description of above image
Response categories Total % of total
Organic 201 29%
Fresh product 216 31%
Natural 214 31%
Low/no meat 49 7%
Dairy-free products 26 4%
Gluten-free 51 7%
Made on-site/local source 86 12%
Made in-house 104 15%
Low fat 191 27%
Low in calories 190 27%
Low in carbohydrates 113 16%
Low in sugar 163 23%
High protein 95 14%
Balanced diet 407 58%
None of the above 69 10%
Total 700 100%

Source: GlobalData 2017 Q4 Consumer Survey - JAPAN - Question List *This survey of 700 individuals in Japan was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2017. The respondents may have associated several categories with the question asked.

Examples of organic dairy products

Margarine for Butter Lovers
Source: Mintel 2019
Company J-Oil Mills
Brand Rama
Importer Not imported
Store type Supermarket
Store address Suginamiku, Tokyo 167-0022
Launch date May 2019
Launch type New packaging
Price in yen 171.00
Price in US dollars 1.54

Rama Margarine has been repackaged. This upscale margarine contains butter and milk powder from Hokkaido and is described as rich and delicious just like butter. This product, which is low in trans fats, is also suitable for the preparation of gratins, sautéed vegetables, baked potatoes and orange cake. It is sold in retail outlets in a recyclable 160-g container with a recipe suggestion and QR codes. Launched in March 2019.

Raisin & Butter
Source: Mintel 2019
Company Koiwai Dairy Products
Brand Koiwai
Importer Not imported
Store name Sain E yoshiya
Store address Takada 171-0033
Store type Supermarket
Launch date May 2019
Launch type New packaging
Price in yen 257.00
Price in US dollars 2.30

Koiwai Raisin & Butter has been repackaged. This product boasts that it has kept its original flavour since 1972 and contains butter from Koiwai and California raisins. It contains 43% milk fat and is sold in retail outlets in a 75-gram package. Launched on March 1, 2019 with an Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of 259 yen.

Olive oil and butter flavoured spread
Source: Mintel 2019
Company Unilever
Brand Rama
Importer Not imported
Store name Seiyu
Store type Supermarket
Launch date April 2019
Launch type New packaging
Price in yen 213.00
Price in US dollars 1.91

Rama olive oil and butter flavoured spread has been repackaged with a new design. This product includes a mixture of 30% butter flavour and fruity olive oil, and is described as having a pleasant flavour, which makes it suitable for use in roasting, cooking and baking. It is sold in retail outlets in a 140-gram package with a QR code and suggested recipe. The manufacturer is endeavouring to reduce the trans fats in its margarine blends. Launched in March 2019.

Butter flavoured spread
Source: Mintel 2019
Company Megmilk Snow Brand
Brand Yukijirushi Megmilk
Store type Supermarket
Store name Life
Launch date October 2018
Launch type Market relaunch
Price in yen 189.00
Price in US dollars 1.66

Yukijirushi Megmilk sweet butter-flavoured spread has been relaunched. This product is low in calories, cholesterol and trans fats, does not contain any partially hydrogenated oils and has a rich butter flavour that enhances the taste of all types of bread. This product is sold in retail outlets in a 300-gram package with a QR code.

Grated Gouda, Red Cheddar and Steppen cheeses
Source: Mintel 2019
Company Aeon
Brand Topvalu
Store name Aeon
Store type Supermarket
Launch date January 2019
Launch type New variety/range extension
Price in yen 213.00
Price in US dollars 1.96

Topvalu grated Gouda, Red Cheddar & Steppen cheeses have been added to the product line. This natural cheese is ready to use and can be added to salads or used to season hot dishes before serving. Steppen cheese is described as a mild cheese that melts particularly well when heated. It is sold in retail outlets in a 100-gram package.

Red Cheddar Cheese
Source: Mintel 2019
Company Lawson
Brand Lawson Select
Importer New Zealand
Store name Lawson
Store type Convenience store
Launch date December 2018
Launch type New variety/range extension
Price in yen 198.00
Price in US dollars 1.75

Lawson Select Red Cheddar Cheese is now available. The product is sold in retail outlets in a 45-gram package.

For more information

International Trade Commissioners can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions and local business contacts, and are an excellent point of contact for export advice.

For additional intelligence on this and other markets, the complete library of Global Analysis reports can be found on the International agri-food market intelligence page, arranged by region.

For additional information on FoodEx 2020, please contact

Ben Berry, Deputy Director
Trade Show Strategy and Delivery
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
ben.berry@canada.ca

Resources

Customized Report Service – Organic dairy products in Japan
Global Analysis Report

Prepared by: François Thériault, Market Analyst

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2020).

Photo credits
All photographs reproduced in this publication are used by permission of the rights holders.
All images, unless otherwise noted, are copyright Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada.

To join our distribution list or to suggest additional report topics or markets, please contact:

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Global Analysis
1341 Baseline Rd, Tower 5, 3rd floor
Ottawa ON  K1A 0C5
Canada
Email: aafc.mas-sam.aac@canada.ca

The Government of Canada has prepared this report based on primary and secondary sources of information. Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) assumes no liability for any actions taken based on the information contained herein.

Reproduction or redistribution of this document, in whole or in part, must include acknowledgement of agriculture and agri-food Canada as the owner of the copyright in the document, through a reference citing AAFC, the title of the document and the year. Where the reproduction or redistribution includes data from this document, it must also include an acknowledgement of the specific data source(s), as noted in this document.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada provides this document and other report services to agriculture and food industry clients free of charge.

Report a problem on this page
Please select all that apply:
Date modified: