Foodex Japan 2016
Pavilion for developing countries marking 20th anniversary
From March 8 through 11 the 41st International Food and Beverage Exhibition (“Foodex Japan”) was held at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. The event is one of the industry’s largest exhibitions in Asia, and once again JETRO Zone was set up to support companies from developing countries attempting to enter the Japanese market under the title of “World Food Market.” Throughout Foodex’s run, the companies introduced various new foods and beverages to Japan, enticing many buyers.
Food from 25 countries
Welcoming new participant countries: Albania, Comoros and Lesotho
This year’s JETRO Zone included display booths for 49 companies from 25 developing countries. The pavilion was joined by three new participant countries this year: Albania, which neighbors Greece; Comoros, located north of Madagascar; and Lesotho, in southern Africa. Olive oil from Albania, vanilla from Comoros and herbs and spices from Lesotho were on display, drawing a constant stream of lively business talks.
Marking 20th year of JETRO Zone
JETRO has been participating in the exhibition by setting up the pavilion for developing countries since 1997. It has introduced many new and uncommon foods to Japan by supporting around 1400 companies from 100 countries for the past 20 years. These numbers are remarkable given the fact that the zone’s first year in 1997 included only one country: Egypt. Since the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 2008, the number of participant countries from Africa, an important region for support, has particularly grown. About half of the participants occupying this year’s JETRO Zone were from Africa, and facilitating the exhibition of African countries in Foodex is a part of JETRO’s initiative based on TICAD.
Japanese buyers gathering at JETRO Zone
Superfoods as hot topic
JETRO Zone at Foodex also holds the distinction of being one of the first outlets to introduce “superfoods,” a popular item seen in magazines and at retail shops recently, to the Japanese market. This year featured the following eye-catching superfoods: quinoas and chia seeds from Latin America, coconut oil from Sri Lanka and baobab from Africa. The zone also introduced organic and health foods which helped make for an extremely successful exhibition period.
Collaborating with Japanese taste
A professional chef cooked cuisine by using ingredients shown at JETRO Zone and served dishes at a sampling corner. Among those especially popular with visitors were coffees made from soy beans and okra, both produced in Zimbabwe; a natto-okra laver made with okra powder produced in Cote d’Ivoire; and cold thin wheat noodles blended with spices produced in Lesotho. This was the first time for JETRO Zone to introduce such unique cuisine adapted to Japanese taste by adding original Japanese ingredients to those of exhibitors.
Matching ingredients from developing countries with those of Japan
The future after leaving Foodex
Support through JETRO Zone ends after an exhibitor’s third participation. Exhibitors must work hard until then to find Japanese distributors or business partners. Japanese buyers will often look over their products with a stern eye and make requests to improve design, packaging, taste and quality. JETRO therefore provides consultation services through experts in the food field—most of whom are active buyers themselves—to give participants the advice necessary for them to successfully enter the Japanese market.