Food and drink sector in Japan

Topside of British beef

Japan has high levels of consumption, and food and drink (eating out, at home and take away) makes up a significant proportion of spending. The market is very sophisticated and ready to appreciate high-quality, unique products from overseas.

Market overview

Although traditional local culinary culture remains strong, Japanese consumers enjoy diverse food products which are now available at supermarkets, department stores, grocers and even convenience stores. The Japanese also value the country of origin and stories behind products.

Authentic products including black teas, whiskies, biscuits/shortbread and Scottish smoked salmon have been the most popular British products in the market while olive oils and pasta sauces, which may not be easily linked to the UK, have found market entry more difficult. Japanese people also attach significant importance towards packaging and presentation.

The quality and expectation of products is high. Overseas companies are sometimes requested to make special arrangements for the Japanese market.

The export value of food and non-alcohol drinks from the UK to Japan amounted to GBP96 million in 2012, up 12% from 2011..

Key opportunities

UKTI in Japan has carried out British Food & Drink promotion actively since 2006 in order to introduce a wide range of British products into the market, and to change and improve perceptions of British food amongst Japanese people. The product categories we have found prospects for include:

  • Beverages (cordials, beers and wines)

  • Confectionery (snacks / biscuits / chocolates

  • Speciality foods

  • Organic foods

  • Sausages and bacon

  • Seafood (salmon / lobster / mackerel etc)

Food and Drink products which offer the most potential in the Japanese market should meet ALL the following requirements:

  • High-quality products

  • Quality packaging and presentation (particularly for products suitable for gifts)

  • Clear and obvious link to the UK

  • Product/company with an authentic story

  • Flexible approach to meeting consumer needs

Key projects:

For trade : UK Pavilion at Foodex, 4-7 March 2014 (Asia’s largest Food & Drink trade show held every March in Japan).

For Consumer Promotion: Food is GREAT Campaign (to be launched at end August 2013 – please contact us for more details.).

Latest export opportunities in the Food & Drink sector

Latest export opportunities in Japan

Getting into the market

Main ways of getting into the Japanese market:

  • Exhibiting at trade shows (e.g., Foodex – see above for details)

  • Find a distributor (rather than selling to retailers directly) (UKTI’s OMIS would be a powerful tool)

  • Entry on Taste of Britain website, which is run by UKTI Japan (

Major regulations

  • Food Sanitation Law

  • Organic – Agricultural processed organic food and drink products have certain requirements for export to Japan

  • Additives

More about doing business in Japan


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in Food and Drink sector

Major Events

Japan International Seafood & Technology Expo

21-23 August 2013

Supermarket Trade Show

12-14 February 2014

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Food & Drink
Countries: Japan
Export Action Plan