Demand for meat is growing in Japan and New Zealand meat producers have the right story and the advantage of a new trade agreement.
That is the finding of joint market report on the world’s third largest meat market by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry for Primary Industry.
The Japanese meat market is estimated to be worth about $88 billion this year, an increase of 3.5% on last year, with consumers eating 20% more meat per person than they did 20 years ago.
“Over the last twenty years demand for beef in Japan has increased by 8%, but domestic production has decreased by 10% over the same period.”
Australia supplies half of Japan’s grain fed beef imports although volumes have fallen in recent years due to drought, allowing NZ to grow exports to NZ$349 million in 2022, up 29% from 2021.
Demand for lamb has remained relatively flat, but more than 90% of its imported needs are sourced from Australia or NZ.
Australian lamb suppliers have diverted product in favour of higher prices in China, but this has allowed NZ exporters to grow sales 10% between 2021-22.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Japan is a signatory, allows NZ exporters to access the lowest tariff rates for beef and lamb exports.
For beef, tariffs are reducing from 38.5% to 9% over 16 years, but nearly all tariffs on lamb were eliminated in December 2018.
Beef is considered a premium product but tends to be categorised as either domestic or imported and grain-fed or grass fed.
Domestic product is perceived as superior and commands a higher price.
The study found grass-fed beef is perceived favourably because it is sustainable and therefore has a higher price point of comparable product.
Lamb is attractive to health conscious consumers due to its low fat and high iron content and has become trendy.
“Japanese retailers are starting to carry lamb in their meat sections, however, lack of knowledge about how to prepare lamb at home places limits on demand for home consumption.”
Research commissioned by NZTE found producers should highlight NZ’s natural environment, the nutritional and health benefits of beef and lamb along with its taste, nutrition and quality.
Promotion also needs to reflect Japanese culture, animal welfare, being hormone free and the seasonality of Japanese consumption.
“The Japanese generally enjoying barbecuing in summer, but they consume meat differently during winter.”
Social media needs to be a key part of marketing.
Nearly a third of Japanese shop using their mobile phones and 69% of e-commerce sales in Japan are made on mobile devices.
“Not only is the quality of products important, but exporters need to ensure that the quality of their brands is consistent throughout the purchase funnel – from advertising and service to packaging and delivery.”
This includes translating and localising brand messaging to capture target audiences.