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The wine market in Japan

Wiki Spanish Food editorial team

The typical wine consumer in Japan is middle-aged and prefers varieties such as Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. These consumers first came into contact with wine in the 1980s and 90s and now have enough disposable income to buy "premium" products, i.e. bottles which cost more than 3,000 yen (over 22 euros), according to a report by the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Additionally, according to the USDA, young Japanese consumers appear to prefer wine and beer to traditional drinks such as sake and shōchū. Moreover, according to a survey from 2013, consumption of reds, whites and rosés has increased by 54%, 37% and 9%, respectively.

Taking a closer look at the Japanese consumer, women primarily make purchasing decisions and buy items with packaging that is easier to carry, with the result that Japanese wines (Kokusan) have started using high-quality PET packaging.

Most wine consumption occurs in cities, and more than 70% of "premium" wines are consumed in the Greater Tokyo Area. However, other large Japanese cities are also seeing a rise in consumption. For example, Chilean wine is very popular in Osaka, and the increase in foreign cuisine and restaurants in Kyoto is putting the culture of traditional gastronomy to the test.

In short, it seems that wine consumption in Japan is becoming popular among local consumers, as most restaurants are starting to include red and white wines on their menus, and wines are increasing their presence on supermarket shelves, where they are most affordable (approximately 1,000 yen, i.e. around 7.5 euros). However, wine only accounts for 3.8% of total alcoholic beverage consumption, according to Japan's National Tax Agency.

Spanish imports decline

Japan consumed 3.3 million hectoliters of wine in 2013, according to the most recent data available and analyzed by the USDA. Of that total, 32.4% was Japanese wine, and the remaining 67.6% was imported. The total value of wine imported in Japan amounts to 1,050.2 million dollars.

Fifty-five countries supply wine to Japan, although the first ten account for approximately 98.7% of the volume imported. Chile and the US are the main exporters. As for other countries' performance, imports of bottled wine from France tumbled by 6.5% in 2014, as did wine from the US (-16.6%) and Spain (-10.2%). In contrast, Chilean and Italian wine imports increased, by 19.9% and 1.7%, respectively.

Spain has a share of 12.6% of the bottled wine import market in Japan and, according to the USDA, is a notable rival of the US there, as Spanish wines sell very well in both convenience stores and supermarkets.

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01/08/2017