Language selection

Search

Sector Trend Analysis - Fish Products in Japan

May 2017

Sector Trend Analysis - Fish Products in Japan (PDF Version, 675KB) | Help with downloadable formats

Contents

Executive summary

The Japanese are affluent consumers who set trends in Asia. The attitudes and consumption behaviours of the Japanese people make this mature market significantly different from those of other Asian countries. Consumers are increasingly interested in a diverse variety of foods that have superior taste, are safe and nutritious. Japanese consumers demand and will pay a premium for high-quality food products, provided they exceed expectations.

According to Euromonitor, Japan‘s population is aging faster than any other country in the world and as such, by 2020, almost 30% of the population will be over 65 years of age. Coupled with the fact that Japanese life expectancy is the highest in the world, there is a strong demand for healthy foods. Food products that offer health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, or containing a high level of natural antioxidants such as omega 3, have a marketing advantage in Japan.

Canada-Japan trade relations continue to be important. As of November 2016, Japan was Canada‘s third-largest export market and registered a trade surplus of C$3.7 billion. Canada has had an extensive history of exporting commodities to Japan. There is opportunity for Canadian fisheries to diversify and capitalize on our regulatory framework, high quality and innovative fish products in this discerning marketplace.

Consumer attitudes

The Japanese population is seeing significant decline, with a falling birth rate and a growing population of elderly people, which continued to have an influence on over all food consumption in 2016. Euromonitor reports that sales of processed fish products targeting Japanese consumers and especially senior citizens will continue to see growth. This was also true of products offering health benefits, particularly those appealing to the older population segments. Furthermore, with a growing number of small and single-person households, growth in the number of professional females, and consumers' increasing time constraints, fish products offering a high level of convenience, such as ready meals and frozen processed are therefore increasing in demand.

The aging Japanese population also considers specific demands for their food choices, specifically in the sectors of health and wellness. Products are promoted as enhancing the nutritional and health value of foods, while still offering quality, taste and innovation, appeals to Japanese consumers who are looking to increase the chance of living longer and improve their health. These products will come with higher prices, likely for lower volume, but will most likely not offset the overall decline in value that is expected to occur in the Japanese food market, and fish products falls in the category.

In addition, fish processors are increasingly serving ready-to-eat meals while trying to preserve the appearance of traditional dishes. For example, when serving deboned fish dishes, the meat is reshaped and presented in the form of a fish.

Euromonitor also notes that household sizes are shrinking, and the single-person household is becoming more common. In response to this trend, household demand for home delivery and online shopping are increasing.

Consumption

Japan has one of the highest global per capita levels of fish consumption and fish has traditionally played a key role in diets and as the major protein source. Currently, Japanese consumption is around 33 kilograms (kg) per capita. In comparison, Canada's per capita consumption levels are much lower at around 5.6 kg, just a little higher than the US with 5 kg per capita.

Although Japan has a high per capita consumption of fish, fish consumption is down in the country, as the Japanese are adopting a more westernised diet. The decline in fish consumption is especially significant amongst younger Japanese, aged below 40 years, who prefer processed food while older generations (60 years of age and over), buy three times more fresh fish than those aged below 40 years.

Current Japanese consumption includes a wide range of species with significant volumes of fresh/chilled and high value products such as salmon and tuna. However, fillets and other canned products are also important.

Japan is a major importer of a number of premium seafood products, which Canada has to offer. Consumer-ready products that are convenient and easy to prepare would be welcomed in Japan, which has traditionally been known for its high per capita consumption of fish and seafood.

Japan historic per capita consumption from 2011 to 2016, in kilograms
Category 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Fish and seafood 32.8 33.2 32.5 33.0 33.2 33.5
Crustaceans 4.2 4.1 3.9 4.0 4.0 4.1
Fish 21.4 22.1 21.8 22.5 22.9 23.3
Molluscs and cephalopods 7.2 6.9 6.8 6.5 6.3 6.1
Source: Euromonitor 2017.

By the numbers

The volume of Japan's live, fresh, frozen and processed fish imports decreased by 0.7% from 2011 to 2015 to 1.5 million metric tonnes. During the same time period, the value of imports decreased by 6.2% to US$8.1 billion from the US$10.5 billion in 2011. However 2016 sales are promising to reverse this trend. China, the United States, Norway, Chile and Russia were the largest suppliers of fish and seafood to Japan in 2015.

Top ten suppliers of fish: live, fresh, frozen and processed to Japan by value in 2015 in US$ in millions (Based on Japanese import data)
Rank Country 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016* CAGR 2011-15
N/A World 10,578.2 11,052.3 9,037.1 8,826.2 8,188.8 8,452.7 −6.2%
1 China 1,759.6 1,789.3 1,483.9 1,426.1 1,405.2 1,446.2 −5.5%
2 United States 1,231.7 1,338.3 1,050.7 1,107.5 1,140.8 1,094.3 −1.9%
3 Norway 891.8 914.3 788.0 856.9 812.2 918.6 −2.3%
4 Chile 1,430.2 1,450.5 1,023.5 1,199.1 958.0 915.4 −9.5%
5 Russia 692.0 786.8 690.9 591.9 482.5 514.8 −8.6%
6 Taiwan 657.8 617.6 414.1 448.2 451.4 494.4 −9.0%
7 Thailand 533.0 578.8 482.7 462.3 426.0 430.4 −5.4%
8 South Korea 622.6 617.4 506.9 446.7 362.3 396.4 −12.7%
9 Indonesia 398.4 431.1 325.6 293.1 228.6 242.1 −13.0%
10 Viet-Nam 146.9 175.7 144.7 167.3 171.7 194.2 4.0%
12 Canada 177.0 164.9 140.1 142.4 115.0 142.3 −10.2%
Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2017
Not applicable (N/A)
*Note: 2016 (January to November)
Top ten suppliers of fish: live, fresh, frozen and processed to Japan by volume in 2015 in tonnes (Based on Japanese import data)
Rank Country 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016* CAGR 2011-15
N/A World 1,588,353 1,601,999 1,461,401 1,500,121 1,543,443 1,483,132 −0.7%
1 United States 238,530 215,480 195,890 205,643 213,561 211,815 −2.7%
2 China 173,268 169,107 154,758 164,170 187,407 186,264 2.0%
3 Norway 188,016 217,256 177,076 147,541 155,891 141,357 −4.6%
4 Chile 113,423 110,744 97,649 95,692 93,362 93,421 −4.7%
5 Thailand 72,963 75,412 73,319 77,130 84,501 86,963 3.7%
6 Taiwan 102,072 104,229 110,384 99,851 87,841 84,059 −3.7%
7 Russia 68,328 65,344 60,828 55,930 51,356 51,200 −6.9%
8 South Korea 66,568 66,351 59,073 55,663 52,541 49,017 −5.7%
9 Indonesia 19,944 17,065 17,343 21,343 17,917 20,025 −2.6%
10 Viet-Nam 33,450 36,794 30,232 37,677 39,386 41,970 4.2%
15 Canada 19,944 17,065 17,343 21,343 17,917 20,025 −2.6%
Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2017
Not applicable (N/A)
*Note: 2016 (January to November)

According to most recent Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Japan's domestic fish and seafood production is declining year on year. Depleted fish stocks has contributed to the downsizing the fish processing industry in Japan.

Historic fish and seafood domestic production in Japan by category in tonnes from 2011 to 2013
Category 2011 2012 2013
Pelagic fish 1,759,945.11 1,735,610.69 1,659,061.30
Demersal fish 862,013.59 952,986.25 927,685.81
Crustaceans 970,487.48 1,005,750.03 906,333.81
Molluscs, other 917,895.41 904,766.55 819,416.12
Marine fish, other 931,972.96 845,685.67 730,783.86
Cephalopods 465,112.71 452,784.69 499,797.92
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) 2017.

According to Global Trade Tracker, the notable increases in 2015 in Japanese fish imports were mainly in frozen salmon, frozen mackerel, frozen fillet of tuna, frozen skipjack in Alaska pollock. Pollock is versatile and is used as a raw material for many processed foods besides ordinary fishcake, such as fish sausage and braised fishcake tubes.

Canada's performance

Canada's was the 12th-largest supplier of live, fresh, frozen and processed fish with a value of US$142.3 million as of November 2016 (based on Japanese import data). This represents an increase of 24% for the same period in 2015. The live, fresh, frozen and processed final exports value to Japan, will certainly will be much higher when the all export values and volumes are reported for 2016.

Top ten Japanese fish: live, fresh, frozen and processed imports from the Canada and 2016 in US$
HS Code Description 2015 2016* 2016/2015
030520 Fish livers and roes, dried, smoked, salted or in brine 27,474,897 33,112,814 21%
030389 Frozen fish 22,010,858 20,935,842 −5%
030390 Frozen fish livers and roes 13,210,424 20,901,161 58%
030214 Fresh or chilled Atlantic salmon 5,374,121 16,428,795 206%
030331 Frozen lesser or Greenland halibut 14,826,399 16,346,056 10%
030235 Fresh or chilled Bluefin tuna 8,240,307 7,692,139 −7%
030312 Frozen pacific salmon 3,827,171 4,494,281 17%
160432 Caviar substitutes prepared from fish eggs 2,293,256 4,075,291 78%
030351 Frozen herrings 2,012,800 3,640,350 81%
030483 Frozen fillets of flat fish 4,813,664 2,709,955 −44%
Source: Global Trade Tracker, 2017
Harmonized System (HS)
*Note: 2016 partial year

In 2016, the increase in imports from Canada are most notable in fresh/chilled Atlantic salmon, frozen herring, caviar substitute, frozen fish liver and roe, dried, smoked, salted fish liver and roe products.

Market sizes

Euromonitor predicts that the sales of fish products will continue to grow in the Japanese market, as consumers continue to seek out convenient meal solutions amidst demographic and lifestyles changes. In addition, manufacturers will continue to introduce value-added fish products, geared toward younger generations which should help to sustain fish product sales.

Historic fish and seafood value sales in Japan by product in US$ in millions
Category 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 CAGR 2011-16
Processed seafood (total) 29,319 28,637 28,311 28,686 28,441 28,236 −0.8%
Shelf stable seafood 2,489 2,715 2,837 2,889 2,760 2,669 1.4%
Chilled processed seafood 26,154 25,269 24,827 25,175 25,042 24,914 −1.0%
Frozen processed seafood 676 653 646 622 639 653 −0.7%
Source: Euromonitor, 2017.
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Note: sales for the fresh fish and seafood market include both foodservice and retail sales. Any slight discrepancies in column totals are due to rounding.

In sales terms, the most important product category within processed fish and seafood is the chilled processed seafood, confirming the convience trends observed by Euromonitor. With rapid demographic changes sweeping the Japanese society, consumers are increasingly looking to save time by adopting already prepared meals and semi-processed fish products, this trends is expected to continue in the future.

Forecast fish and seafood value sales in Japan by product in US$ millions
Category 2017F 2018F 2019F 2020F CAGR 2017-20
Processed seafood (total) 28,744.9 29,172.7 29,578.8 29,987.9 1.4%
Shelf stable seafood 2,650.6 2,632.3 2,621.2 2,618.2 −0.4%
Chilled processed seafood 25,418.5 25,845.2 26,244.0 26,638.2 1.6%
Frozen processed seafood 675.9 695.1 713.6 731.6 2.7%
Source: Euromonitor, 2017.
Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
Forecast (F)
Note: sales for the fresh fish and seafood market include both foodservice and retail sales. Any slight discrepancies in column totals are due to rounding.

New products trends

Of the new packaged fish products launches tracked by Mintel, there were 250 products introduced to the Japanese market between January 2011 and December 2016, with 59 new products in 2016 alone.

Convenience plays an important role in fish product marketing in Japan. Mintel notes that ready to cook and ready to eat forms of fish are in high demand as more consumers are willing to pay a premiums for those products. Moreover, ranges of value added meat products available in the Japanese markets make meats more popular and a strong competitor to fish and fish products. Fish and fish based meals are known all over the world to be beneficial due to health and wellness claims. Fish is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which make fish more popular in the Japanese market in particular.

New fish and fish products launches in the Japanese market between January 2011 and December 2016
Year New product launches
2011 29
2012 26
2013 28
2014 62
2015 46
2016 59
Source: Mintel, 2017.
New fish and fish products launches by ingredient in the Japanese market between January 2011 and December 2016
Ingredient 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Fish extracts 2 0 1 20 8 12
Bonito extract 7 3 8 8 9 12
Fish fats 2 2 3 1 10 5
Crab extract 2 1 2 3 3 5
Cod 13 11 13 17 3 5
Scallop extract 2 2 1 4 4 2
White flower croaker 1 1 2 6 1 2
Snakehead fish 5 6 7 5 4 1
Swordfish 7 3 5 3 1 0
Source: Mintel , 2017

Fish products containing fish extract, bonito extracts and fish fats are the top three sought after products. Fish products consumption in all its forms and especially cooked from scratch are still popular in many Japanese home kitchens, particularly among the older generation. Overall, the majority of Japanese consumers have indicated that food safety concerns puts natural/organic claims on fish products very high on their buying choices, according to Mintel.

It should be noted that, fish is often viewed negatively among many younger Japanese as they do not appreciate its odour and the preparation involved. However, Euromonitor notes that health-inspired successes linked to the healthy attributes of fish in recent years may have the potential to rekindle consumer interest in consuming fresh fish.

New fish and fish products launches by claim in the Japanese market between January 2011 and December 2016
Claim category 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Total products
Natural 34.48% 42.31% 53.57% 70.97% 50.00% 66.10% 56.80%
Suitable for 27.59% 26.92% 32.14% 11.29% 34.78% 28.81% 25.60%
Ethical & environmental 13.79% 23.08% 32.14% 14.52% 19.57% 22.03% 20.00%
Convenience 24.14% 50.00% 35.71% 11.29% 8.70% 8.47% 18.40%
Minus 0.00% 7.69% 10.71% 20.97% 26.09% 23.73% 17.60%
Plus 31.03% 23.08% 32.14% 9.68% 10.87% 11.86% 16.80%
Demographic 20.69% 19.23% 14.29% 6.45% 10.87% 8.47% 11.60%
Functional 3.45% 7.69% 7.14% 0.00% 2.17% 8.47% 4.40%
Source: Mintel , 2017

Over 66% of the new products released in 2016 were positioned as natural, which was by far the most frequently occurring claim. Other leading claims were “suitable for”, as well as ethical and environmental.

Top Japanese companies with the most product launches in 2016
Company Q1 2016 Q2 2016 Q3 2016 Q4 2016
Kibun Foods 4 0 7 11
Nippon Suisan Kaisha 2 6 4 5
Aeon Co. 0 3 3 2
Marudai Food 0 2 3 1
Lawson 0 3 0 0
Maruha 0 0 2 0
Source: Mintel, 2017

Kibun is one company that dominates in terms of manufacturing or launching new fish products in 2016, with 22 new products, followed by Nippon Suisan Kaisha with 17 new products and Aeon Co. was third with eight new products.

Japan, product launches by branded versus private label in 2016
Launch type New products launched - Branded New products launched - Private label
New variety/range extension 21 9
Relaunch 14  
New packaging 9 1
New product 5 1
Source: Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), 2017

Products incorporating fish and fish ingredients are dominated by branded products, which represented almost 82% of the new releases, whereas only 18% of the introductions were released under a private label. Kibun is the dominant branded brand, while Aeon is the dominant in private label category. The majority of the new launches (50%) were new varieties/range extensions, followed by relaunches (23.3%), new packaging (16.7%), and new product (10%).

Foodservice

The foodservice channel accounts for 47.6% of fresh fish and seafood sales in Japan, followed by the retail channel with 33.8%. This shows the importance of the foodservice sector for fish and seafood consumption in Japan. Imported products such as salmon, tuna and mackerel are in heavy demand by the foodservice sector.

Distribution of fresh fish and seafood sales in Japan – (%) breakdown based on volume sales
Channel 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Foodservice 47.9 47.9 48.0 48.0 47.8 47.6
Retail 35.0 35.0 35.0 35.0 34.2 33.8
Institutional 17.1 17.1 17.0 17.0 18.0 18.6
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Source: Euromonitor, 2017
Major fish and seafood distributors in Japan in 2015
Company name Product type Rank
OUG Holdings Inc. Fish and Seafood 1
Chuo Gyorui Co. Ltd. Fish and Seafood 2
Maruichi Co. Ltd. Fish and Seafood 3
Source: Euromonitor, 2017

Conclusion

Japanese food manufacturers seek quality ingredients and conveniently prepared semi-processed foods that can reduce costs. Specifically, indications are that there is good potential in the market for high value fish products.

Japan has many opportunities for Canadian fish processing companies who are willing to take the time to establish business relationships and meet the necessary regulatory requirements enforced by the country. There are market opportunities for fish products that provide solutions for convenient living, address emerging health issues and aging, and satisfy the consumer‘s need for new experiences.

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 under Statistics and Market Information at the following link, arranged by sector and region of interest:

For additional Information on FOODEX 2017, please contact:

Resources

Sector Trend Analysis - Fish Products in Japan
Global Analysis Report
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2017).

To join our distribution list or to suggest additional report topics or markets, please contact:
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Global Analysis
1341 Baseline Road, Tower 5, 3rd floor
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1A 0C5
E-mail: 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: