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Japan: recession causes concerns over food costs

The recession has caused Japanese consumers to be more price-conscious. However, despite being price-conscious, their desire for safe food continues to hold strong.

According to reports, respondents to the Japan Finance Cooperation (JFC – owned by the Japanese government) consumer surveys, which was carried out in December 2008, rated ‘cost of food’ as their prime concern (35%), followed by ‘health benefits’ (33%) and ‘safety’ (32%).

Increased cost concerns

It was reported that the concerns over costs increased by 8% points from the previous two surveys (January and May 2008). ‘Safety’ decreased 9% points from May results, but was still 11% points higher than in January 2008.

Oceania products – thought of highly

Food products from the Oceania region (Australia and New Zealand) were thought of highly by Japanese consumers who are price and safety conscious. Also, the JFC survey suggested that food from Australia and New Zealand was viewed as ‘affordable’ and ‘safe’, compared to perceptions noted for China and the US (whose products were deemed ‘affordable’ but had ‘concerns with safety’).

A recent consumer research conducted by MLA, said that 74% of respondents agreed that Australian beef is safe, and 70% thought Australian beef is value for money. The JFC survey did not look at Australian beef specifically.

Natalie Berkhout

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