Spain leads the olive oil market in Japan and plans to improve its position

Spain leads the olive oil market in Japan and plans to improve its position

2018/03/09 - According to the report "The Olive Oil Market in Japan" developed by ICEX, Spain leads olive oil exports in Japan. Regarding volume, it is the main exporter in the three categories: virgin olive oil, olive oil and other oils, with 58.9%, 36.7% and 37.8% of share, respectively. In terms of value, Spain also occupies the first position. The document concludes that, since it is an expanding market for several years, "it seems possible to continue improving the position of Spanish oils" in the country of the Rising Sun.

Developed by the Economic and Commercial Office of the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo, the report also reveals that Japan is the third non-European and non-producer country that imports the most olive oil in the world (57,033 tons in 2017), equal to 2.8 % of world imports of this product.

Historically, Italy was until 2014 the main olive oil supplier of the Japanese market, with a general quota of 47% of the volume. However, since 2015 Spain leads exports of olive oil in general terms in Japan.

Our country ended the year 2017 with a total of 33,758 tons and 18,906 million yen exported to Japan compared to 20,610 tons and 14,773 million yen reached by Italian oils. This entails a quota of 59.19% of the total volume and 53.32% of the value, against 36.14% and 41.66% regarding Italy, respectively.

Despite the clear dominance in volume of Spanish oils, there is only one pitfall which is the category of extra virgin olive oil, in which Italy, with less exported volume, obtains a greater share of value, which responds to the price per liter, being highest in the Italian oils.

The association between the product and the country provides a great competitive brand advantage to Italian companies, which are thus favored by the association between Italian food (pasta) and olive oil. However, the report also records an upward trend of penetration of Mediterranean cuisine in Japan, "enjoying greater recognition of the country image for other Mediterranean countries."

Likewise, although between Spain and Italy they share almost 95% of the market, it is worth noting the evolution of other competitors such as Greece, Turkey, Australia and Chile. Among them Turkey stands out, which is behind Italy with a share of 1.9% in volume and 1.5% in value.

Consumption and knowledge
The dossier also reveals data on the consumption of olive oil per capita in Japan, which -they point out- is still much lower than in other countries where it is not part of the traditional diet either. This report also provides data from the International Olive Council, which estimates that 64% of the Japanese citizens consume of olive oil, with a per capita consumption of 350 gr. per year.

On the other hand, the frequency of purchase is also low. However, 90% of the women interviewed for the study of the International Olive Oil Council published in February 2018, said they knew about olive oil. In fact, the frequency analysis of olive oil consumption indicates that 51% of women -compared to 38% of men- consume olive oil at least once a week.

On the other hand, the report shows that the Japanese prefer the consumption of extra virgin olive oil due to its health benefits. The IOC report indicates that the main factors that influence the purchase decision are "price" and "health", with the segment between 20 and 40 years more sensitive to price while the 50 to 60 years to health.

The study concludes with a recommendation: "It is convenient to make an effort to adapt the packaging to Japanese consumption habits. While in the beginning the containers of 100 or 250 ml. were the most popular, currently, the most claimed, are those between 500 ml. and 1 l.

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