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Hot business in Japan

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JAPAN buys almost a quarter of Australia’s food and beverage exports, writes FOOD Magazine editor Matthew Levinson, and although around a billion dollars of that is shared between grain and dairy, there is a growing demand for Australian products, especially in niche markets.

“In Hong Kong you can walk into any store and almost any Australian product is available,” said Austrade ’s Osaka-based senior trade commissioner Michael Clifton.

“That has not been the case in Japan, but increasingly the profile of Australian products on the shelf has increased.”

He said relationships begun at the Aichi World Expo in 2005 have resulted in Japanese sales of Tasmanian gourmet sauces and honeys, fruit juices, fruit butters, Queensland mandarins, Australian wine, and non-GMO canola oil from Kangaroo Island.

“When I talk about fruit butters, these are small Australian companies who we have been put in touch with niche providers to the foodservice and retail sectors and they’re moving small quantities, not Coles and Woolworths equivalents.

“At the SME end of the spectrum, we can help put small companies in touch with similar sized companies here in Japan who are looking for unique products.

“We’ve done a lot of work with a privately owned, medium to high end chain called Ikari and they did an Australian food and wines promotion about three months ago with a dedicated range of shelf space.”

From July 31 to August 11, Austrade will conduct free half-day seminars in Melbourne, Bendigo, Launceston, Sydney, Parramatta, Perth, Margaret River, Adelaide, Brisbane and Bundaberg, advising Australian food and beverage businesses on export opportunities in Japan and Taiwan.

The seminars will feature updates on business conditions, market trends and specific business opportunities reported by the six trade posts in Japan.

Austrade staff will also provide on the spot product assessments for participants.

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