By: Wine and Gourmet Japan
Japan is often overlooked by wine exporters, who are blinded by the pure size of the Chinese market.
What many exporters do not see is, Asia-Pacific’s second biggest wine importer has one of the liveliest and most sophisticated wine markets in Asia.
In the past two decades, wine has made the step from being an occasional drink to an alcoholic beverage that is widely available and regularly enjoyed by the masses. According to a 2014 study by Wine Intelligence, almost half of the adult population in Japan drinks wine on a regular basis.
This trend also results in a constantly growing wine consumption. Between 2011 and 2014, the per capita consumption has increased from 2.3 litres to 3.1 litres and it is expected to reach 5 litres by 2020. In comparison, Chinese consumers drink a modest 1.5 litre per capita (in 2013).
However, the biggest difference between the two Asian countries is probably the way how wine is perceived and consumed. Japanese wine lovers tend to spend more time in gaining knowledge about wine in general, and especially about the wine they are drinking. Matching the right wine with food is an important component in the decision making process. According to the Japanese Sommelier Association, there are more than 21,400 certified sommeliers and 12,332 certified Wine Experts in Japan.
Even though red wine is still the most popular type of wine in Japan (60 per cent), the latest trends show that lighter white wines and sparkling wines are gaining popularity. This is especially so for light white wines, which complement Japanese seafood dishes, and this is observed by an increased interest from importers.
Sparkling wine is another segment that is receiving attention from consumers in Japan. The trend is mainly driven by women and younger consumers. Between 2015 and 2019, the sparkling wine segment is expected to grow by 23 per cent. Although the French Champagnes still dominate the market, there is a high potential for more economical sparkling wines like prosecco or cava.
[The eight edition of Wine and Gourmet Japan will be held from the 12th to 14th April 2017 at the Tokyo Big Sight, Exhibition Centre.]
For more on the wine sector in APAC see AHCT December issue.