BioFach Japan 2012: New trading concepts boost the organic market

Source: BioFach-press release

Producers of organic food and natural cosmetics who are interested in exporting to Asia have already marked the three days from 21st to 23rd November 2012 in their calendars: on these dates, the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition centre will be the meeting point for the international organic market once again. This is already the 12th time that the leading Japanese trade fair for certified organic products is taking place in Tokyo. It is particularly satisfying that the set up and development work of NürnbergMesse was worth it and is appreciated by exhibitors and visitors alike. Thus, Italy, especially the region of Sicily, and Argentina are represented at BioFach Japan 2012 for the first time with a joint stand. There are also exhibitors from Germany, Australia, France, South Korea, Austria and the United Arab Emirates.


In the past year, more than 16,000 interested trade visitors came and brought good business for the 170 exhibitors. The Japanese are traditionally very health-conscious. As a result of the terrible events in spring 2011, many people are paying even more attention to the quality of food and beauty products than previously. The demand for organic products and natural cosmetics is rising. The trade is recording a steady growth.

This is also verified by the latest market research results. The Japanese economy generally experienced a good development in the first quarter of 2012. The market for organic food, in particular, was able to continue to grow. Previously, with an estimated turnover of 1.3 billion dollars, it has accounted for approximately 1 % of the total Japanese food market. Surveys as part of the Organic Market Research Project 2010 and 2011 revealed, however, that Japanese consumers attach great value to healthy, high quality food, and the term "organic" is familiar to 97 % of them. 65 % of the surveyed Japanese consumers have eaten organic products at some point. A remarkable 60 % of intensive buyers of organic products, who purchase organic products several times per week or almost every day, are over 50. Amongst the 30 to 40 year olds, 32 % buy organic products at least once per week. As far as the income of the consumers is concerned, the high earners stand out: 20 % of households who buy organic products more frequently have more than 100,000 euros per year at their disposal, 33 % are in the income group between 40,000 and 70,000 euros. Conclusion: the middle class, which has a broad base in Japan, and the higher earners form the main clientele for organic products.

The growth of a market depends, to a great extent, on product availability and the number of sales outlets. Both are enjoying a very positive development in the Japanese organic market. In autumn 2011, the newcomer company Mie Project, a Japanese importer and wholesaler of organic products, opened its first store under the name of Choosee in Tokyo. Since spring 2012, Mie has supplied the Muji lifestyle stores with a wide range of organic brands. The vision of the Mie Project founder Duco Delgorge is to create more options for purchasing organic products, in all trading formats. The customers of the wholesaler include more than 800 sales outlets, ranging from organic food shops and market stalls, to supermarkets and department stores, to delis and online shops. Mie Project imports its organic brand name products from France, Italy and Germany, in particular.

The product range of the Austrian organic producer and herb specialist Sonnentor has also been represented in Tokyo since autumn 2011. The company Omochabako opened the first Japanese Sonnentor franchise shop with gourmet café. This allows even an occasional buyer to get to know the taste and advantages of natural food.

In addition to the newcomer companies, organic pioneers, for example the consumers' cooperative Seikatsu Club Consumers´ Cooperative Union (SCCCU), which was founded as early as 1965, make a contribution to the growing range of organic products. With more than 300,000 members and around 30 regional cooperatives, the cooperative is widespread in Japan. Its activities include joint direct purchasing from producers and processors, as well as the distribution of non-genetically modified, regional, organically grown food. Moreover, the organisation would like to contribute to increasing Japan's self-sufficiency with regard to food, and to spread green ideas. In around 200 so-called warehouses, a range of approximately 3,000 organic products is available for sale for the members of the cooperative. Meetings and training events also take place there. The cooperative also conducts partnerships with farmers, and runs a rice project and three dairies of its own. According to the study on the organic market by the Organic Market Research Project, cooperatives are the second most popular places for purchasing organic products, after supermarkets.

Natural cosmetics occupy a special position in the Japanese market. Beauty products that manage without petrochemistry and animal testing are getting increasingly popular. A whole host of European companies is already represented on the Japanese market. In the Guidebook for Export to Japan 2011, the analysis by JETRO (Japanese External Trade Organisation) testifies to good prospects for the future for the sector. The demand for organic cosmetics has steadily risen in recent years. The experts describe the lack of uniform certification and consistent labelling as an obstacle to purchasing. The French Ecocert certification and the seal for certified natural cosmetics of the German association BDIH are currently recognised. Since 2007, the two Japanese initiatives Japan Organic Cosmetics Organisation and Japan Cosmetics Association have been working on the guidelines for organic cosmetics.

The established natural cosmetics area will be there again at BioFach Japan 2012. The Vivaness Cosmetic Parlourwith atester counter for all the exhibited products has been very well received by the visitors to the trade fair so far.

Other BioFach exhibitions
BioFach and Vivaness, Nuremberg: 13–16 February 2013
BioFach America, Baltimore: 20–22 September 2012
BioFach India, Bangalore: 29 November–1 December 2012
BioFach China, Shanghai: 23–25 May 2013
BioFach América Latina, São Paulo: 27–30 June 2013


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