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Shinji Ohta
AMember,  Japan Tropical Fruit Association
President & CEO, Creative House Corporation
Currently there are varieties of tropical fruit which are distributed all over Japan. In general Japanese consumers are getting more demanding and developing keen eyes on quality and safety of products. To meet this demand, Japanese suppliers are more focused on customer satisfaction as well as providing competitive price. Under these circumstances, suppliers need significant effort to attract consumers in Japan by quality assurance and disclosure of the process. When one talks about the Japanese tropical fruit market, it is inevitable that producers pursue high value, high quality and safe products. On the other hand, consumers pay more money if the products have more value compared to others.  It means suppliers can earn more money if they can supply value-added products. From a distribution stand point, Japanese agricultural market has been affected by Japan Agricultural Coop (“JA” network) - national network. Farmers are supported by this organization in terms of distribution, quality management, funding, etc. for their various activities. In order to develop the tropical fruit business in this mature market, exporters need to provide quality products with its own distribution network. Given the fact that most Japanese prefer domestic products, exporters may need to add more value to their products in order to be more competitive. 
Keywords: Clean, Distribution, Food safety, Good Agricultural Practice, High quality, Supply chain, Value-added
In the 1960s, mandarin orange was considered a major fruit in the Japanese market. After the economic growth, the range of products was varied and growers were producing more species based on the location. In terms of imported fruit, banana has been a major product in Japan. This product used to be considered a premium product, but currently, banana is now considered as the most popular tropical fruit in the Japanese market.  In Okinawa, which is located in the sub-tropical area of Japan, pineapples abound. This fruit started to be produced in 1960’s. However, due to changes in regulation related to free trade, pineapple supply has been taken over by imported products. Currently, Okinawa is famous for its domestic mango, papaya and other tropical fruit. Domestic mango is produced in Okinawa and southern part of Kyushu. Those products are of high value and quality. Tropical fruit are currently imported from various countries. For instance, avocado imports have been increasing and comes mainly from Mexico. Major location of imported mango is Brazil. In this report, the current status of tropical fruit, its distribution processes, consumers’ preferences, government’s focus, growers’ momentum are put together for us to better understand how the Japanese market operates and behaves.
This research survey was conducted in the markets of Japan. Secondary information was taken from literatures published in Japan and government database. In terms of financial data for imported fruit volume and/or value, the information was extracted from database as well as reports provided by government offices and other related organizations. With regard to agricultural market conditions, distribution channels etc. were referred to literature published in Japan. In this report, market survey was conducted to report the current situation in the market place which will affect consumers’ decision making.
1.  Annual volume and value of imported fresh tropical fruit from 2008-2013 
The information below is the volume trend of imported fruit since 2004. All fruit imported volume has been fluctuating since 2004. Although current volume registered a lower level over the last 10 years, the volume is still more than 1,600,000 MT. It represents significant volume of fruit which are imported to Japan.
In the category of imported fruit, banana covers significant part of the entire volume. This is due primarily to the fact that banana is available throughout the year, it is sold at a reasonable price, is easy to eat, etc. The volume has been declining in recent years, but this is in line with the general trend of all imported fruit in Japan.
Pineapple ranks as the second largest volume, but it is 19.6% compared to the volume of banana. Other major imported fruit mainly belong to members of the citrus family.
The second major imported tropical fruit is pineapple, although the volume is much lower than banana.
The following chart represents three typical tropical fruit in Japan. Avocado is gaining in terms of popularity due to the variety of recipes being shared in social media. It appears that the volume reduction in 2011 was related to the recent earthquake which hit the country.

2. Major species and varieties, along with their countries of origin, of fresh tropical fruit imported to the country
The following is the imported volume of banana by country of origin. Although banana is imported from various countries, more than 90% comes from the Philippines. The above chart is the sum of two types of categories – regular banana and banana plantain. The breakdown of the category is shown below.
Banana is the most popular imported tropical fruit in Japan. Its major variety is cavendish. Banana has been the biggest imported volume in Japan. Because the product is available throughout the year, is sold at a reasonable price, is easy to eat, etc. At the same time, in terms of functionality or nutrition, i.e., “Polyphenol”, etc. is also a driver that generates a big demand. Due to variety of other products, the volume has declined.
Pineapple is the second largest imported fruit in Japan. More than 99% is imported from the Philippines and the volume has been increasing (see Table 3). There is a commercial-based domestic production in Okinawa, but the volume is small due to price competitiveness with imported products.
After its introduction to Japan, imported volume of avocado has been increasing significantly. It appears that the reason is nutrition which accounts for the increase in imported value of avocado. According to nutrition facts, avocado contains vitamin E. In addition, this tropical fruit has a variety of recipes available. Therefore, consumers can use this material for their daily meals.
From growers stand point, planting of avocado is getting popular as the product demand is increasing. Avocado distributed in Japan is mainly imported from Mexico and the variety is Haas.
In the case of mango, import volume is not increasing although mango related processed foods are very typical in Japan e.g. sweets such as ice cream, cake, pudding, syrup, etc. (see Table 5).
Mango’s origin is mainly from Mexico, Philippines and Thailand. From Mexico and the Philippines, the popular variety is Irwin, but on the other hand, Nam Doc Mai and Mahachano are the main mango varieties from Thailand.
In the market place, imported products are sold at relatively cheaper price for daily use. At the same time, domestic products are also commercialized with high value. These high-end domestic products are distributed mainly for gift purposes.
In Japan, domestic mango has been popular after Miyazaki prefecture developed a local brand. The resale price is around JPY 8,000 – 10,000 per piece (approx. US$80 – 100 at 1US$ = 100JPY). The success factor is to promote mangoes to Japanese customers by presenting its appearance and taste. The President of Miyazaki prefecture himself promoted this original brand in a TV program resulting in the boosting of the product in the domestic market.
Papaya’s volume is not so significant. Normally in the supermarket, matured papayas are sold. Okinawa area has variety of recipe for fresh papaya, however, in other areas, fresh papaya recipe is not so popular.
Table 7 shows the major varieties of banana, avocado and mango observed in the Tokyo area. As the direct import volume by trader and/or supermarket is expanded, the varieties are increasing. Therefore, more varieties are introduced to the Japanese tropical fruit market.
For instance, the mango variety Irwin, which is a popular variety fits the Japanese preference. However, premium supermarket promotes other varieties imported from Thailand e.g. nam doc mai, mahachano, etc.
3. Distribution channel (e.g. major importing companies, ports of entry, etc.) and market segmentation (e.g. wholesale, retail, etc.) of fresh tropical fruit imported to the country
Conventionally, distribution channel in Japan primarily consists of JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives) with market and direct distribution channels by wholesalers. JA has been providing variety of support to farmers not only in cultivation but also in financing for daily operations. From farmers perspective, JA has important values as they are sole purchaser as well as distributor. Additionally, financial support is provided. Therefore, small-sized farmers still rely on the JA system.
Recently big supermarkets are procuring products directly from farmers. The reduction of supply chain process can provide consumers with fresh foods. It also guarantees that the products are produced by reliable growers which are visible to consumers. From a financial stand point, value chain reduction can generate more profits to supplier
The other distribution channel is the local farmers market which is located in each prefecture in Japan. Currently, more than 15,000 markets exist. Major network is a market place along with national routes, which is managed by the Ministry of Land and Transportation. This network is called “Michi no eki”. This facility normally has a gas station, a restaurant, café, gardening shop as well as farmers market, which is sourced from the local production area.
In order to develop distribution channel of tropical fruit, the original approach for market access is needed other than conventional distribution such as JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperative). Additionally, it is important to establish direct relationship with markets or resellers to develop direct distribution channels in order to earn profits.  This approach is able to seek opportunities to develop profitable and sustainable distribution channels.
Currently, more growers are trying to promote their products via internet shops. Given the fact that more  consumers search for products through the internet, the research for e-commerce of tropical fruit is also necessary.
4.  Major seasons of the year to import tropical fruit
Tropical fruit are imported to Japan throughout the year.  In supermarkets, one can easily find banana (Philippines), pineapple (Hawaii), avocado (Mexico), mango (Brazil), etc. 
Fig. 8 represents major seasons for domestic tropical fruit in Okinawa. To export tropical fruit to the Japanese market, these seasons need to be considered in order to compete with other domestic products.
Shift of planting area to the north:
Presently domestic producers can supply various tropical fruit which is produced in warm greenhouses. For instance, mango is produced even in Hokkaido, which is located in the northernmost part in Japan.
Additionally, global warming trend is gradually affecting fruit production in this country. Planting areas of mandarin orange, apple, cherry, etc. is shifting to the northern part of Japan. Major agricultural newspapers introduce farmers’ activities for tropical fruit planting in Japan.
5. Phytosanitary requirements or bilateral agreements of specific fresh tropical fruit imported to the country
In terms of phytosanitary requirements, there was an amendment of fumigant usage for imported fruit. Due to revision of Food Sanitation Law in 2003, positive list was developed in 2006 in order to prevent food distribution if the residual value of pesticide is exceeding the criterion. New standard was developed for fumigants such as methyl bromide, hydrocyanic acid and aluminum phosphide.
For pesticides which were listed in the above initiative, the Food Safety Committee developed Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for pesticides according to the investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) as well as evaluation of residual value by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW). Residue criterion was determined by the ADI.
In 2011, there was an amendment of Phytosanitary Law in accordance with international rule. Additionally, positive list was implemented to be able to conduct pest risk analysis. Japan has been participating in the implementation of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM).
In 2013, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) announced that investigation should be conducted for specific fruit. Table 8 represents the combination of countries, target foods and investigation items for mandatory investigation.
With respect to monitoring, frequency for imported document submissions is recorded at 30%. In addition, traders who violated the rule need to perform self-investigation. This task continues for one year or up to 60 investigations. Monitoring items are listed in Table 9.
6.  Tariff range for importing fresh tropical fruit (year-round and seasonal)
The following tables show tariff range by major crops. The tariffs vary from crop to crop and from country to country as there are special treatments between Japan and other exporting countries. The difference in tariffs can be an advantage for the retail price of imported tropical fruit. The possible impact of specific product can be seen in the section on price difference .
For other tropical fruit, such as guava, mango and mangosteen, tariff is the same as avocado. There is no description whether the products are fresh or dried.
7. Consumers’ preferences on fresh tropical fruit, e.g. appearance, taste, aroma, shape, color, and/or other characteristics
Japanese consumers prefer clean and safe products. Farmers are very sensitive to ship products to the market as the appearance is one of the important criteria for food distribution in Japan. If there are some damages, the price significantly drops. In addition, Japanese local fruit are carefully grown and packed for delivery to consumers.
Taste and aroma:
The Japanese find lots of value in fruit containing high brix. At the retail shop, high brix is emphasized as this is one of the key values of fruit in the Japanese market.
Food safety:
After the disaster in 2011, Japanese consumers are more conscious about food safety and the radiation levels of food, their treatment by agrochemical and chemical fertilizers, etc. Tracking system and visibility are necessary in order to penetrate the Japanese consumers’ market.
After the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Japanese consumers are much conscious about the effects of radiation and the source location of the products. To meet the customers’ requirements, food suppliers regularly conduct investigations on radiation level, disclose traceability of the products such as producers, location, chemical usage, etc.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) is recommending risk management for food safety based on scientific approach. They mentioned that ideal steps done are collection and analysis of food safety information.
Many Japanese consumers also prefer domestic products. The following data shows the proportion is increasing in the last three years.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)
In order to improve food safety, the number of farmers in Japan who adopt GAPs is increasing. This certification is to assure that the farm is well managed in terms of cultivation, production and housekeeping at the farmer’s site. It generated reliability for the goods produced by that farmer and consumers look at this certification as one criterion.
Although global GAPs are most popular, the Japanese GAPs are slowly becoming well-known to Japanese farmers.  According to the report published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF), the number of producers have been adopting GAPs. In addition, the report recommended that farmers should adopt GAPs in order to pursue food safety.
They mentioned that GAPs are important particularly in the production process. They also explained that the adoption of GAPs leads not only to food safety but labor safety, competitiveness, quality improvement, management improvement and efficiency as well. In the case of Japan, GAPs certification has been varied from farmers union, local government, distributors and other private groups. Therefore, MAFF implemented a guideline in 2010 to clarify common platform of GAPs.
This situation means Japanese growers are recognizing that Japanese GAPs certification will add more value to their products from a distribution perspective. For instance, a general merchandising store in Japan is promoting food by disclosing visible information of producers with certification i.e. Organic JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard).
Given the fact that more than 2,500 locations already adopted GAPs certification, it has been a common process in Japanese agriculture, imported fruit should also have GAPs certification in the exporting country.
Food Communication Project (FCP)
Food Communication Project (FCP) was developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) in order to improve reliability of food. The purpose of this project is to visualize the food supply chain and to provide information to consumers related to stakeholders in the supply chain process. As of 2014, 1,632 organizations participated in this initiative.
According to the concept of FCP, food suppliers should comply with factory audit process, public relations, etc. to present credibility, which will convince consumers that the food is reliable. This initiative has been modified to be in line with global standard of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).
8.  Packaging and other uses of imported fresh tropical fruit
Packaging is another important aspect in the distribution of products for the Japanese market. Same as domestic products, fresh fruit are carefully packed and controlled by high level of quality. With respect to packaging, most of the consumer products are contained in clean packages. At the same time, source location is indicated. At the premium supermarkets in Japan, local fruit and tropical fruit are sold together. In the case of tropical fruit, domestic products are also sold. Suppliers’ main locations are in the Southern part of Japan i.e. Okinawa, Kagoshima, Miyazaki, etc. Imported products are avocado from Mexico, mangosteen from Thailand, etc.
Fig. 13. and Fig. 14 represent the packaging style of imported tropical fruit at a famous premium supermarket (“Seijo Ishii”) located in Tokyo. GMO papaya from Hawaii is packed in a plastic bag by one piece. Mangosteen from Thailand is packed with foam bag with five pieces. These forms of packaging show consumers of high quality, safe and of the premium kind 
Traditional popular tropical fruit are also sold at high value. Banana from the Philippines and Ecuador are packed on a single piece basis or a couple of pieces. Pineapples from the Philippines are packed in a plastic bag and advertised as “high brix”.
Import volume of avocadoes from Mexico has been growing. Major variety is Haas and the quality is varied. At the same premium supermarket, avocado is carefully wrapped with foam bag and sold at JPY228 per piece, which is approx. US$2.28 (at 1US$ = 100JPY). See Fig. 17.
Other important value to consumers is that the products did not undergo any chemical treatment. This case happened for imported lemons which were sold in high-end supermarkets in Tokyo, which is shown in Fig. 18.
Variety of imported mangoes has been varied and not only Irwin from Brazil but also Mahachano (Fig. 19) and Nam doc mai (Fig. 20) from Thailand are available at premium supermarkets. Suppliers have been trading different varieties of tropical fruit to the Japanese market.
In the case of domestic fruit, high value grapes are wrapped with a foam bag and packed in a plastic case with a paper base. Grapes are sensitive products so that they are all treated with care. Retail price for this product is JPY890 – JPY990 (approx.US$8.90 – US$9.90 at 1US$ = 100JPY).
Another case is mandarin orange from Australia. Six pieces are sold at JPY398 (approx. US$3.98 at 1US$ = 100JPY). Products related information are provided on the tag and it says some chemicals are used. This action is one of the disclosures being revealed to the consumers.
Currently durian is also available at the local retail shop in Tokyo. The price of one durian is JPY2,500 (approx. US$25 at 1US$ = 100JPY).
Currently, trading volume of durian is small, however, as there is a demand in the Japanese market, durian can be a competitive tropical fruit product from exporters’ stand point. In addition, local production is not so easy even in Okinawa, therefore, there is no competition with local producers in Japan.
Passion fruit is popular in Okinawa (see Fig. 24) and it is also grown in greenhouses the northern part of Japan.
9.  Consumer types of tropical fruit in the country, e.g. age, gender, educational level, income group, etc.
There are fruit gift shops in the big cities and major department stores have a premium fruit shop. In those shops, most of the demands from customers are considered as social gifts either by corporations and/or individuals. Due to the nature of customers’ purchasing purposes, retail prices of fruit are high compared to those sold at premium supermarkets. According to the website of popular fruit gift shop (“Sembikiya”), domestic melons and/or mangoes are sold at around JPY5,000 - 10,000 (approx. US$50 – US$100 at 1US$ = 100JPY).
At the premium supermarket, most of the customers are housewives. It appears the purpose of the purchase is for daily use or special occasions rather than gifts. The retail price is lower than that of fruit gift shop, but the price is still higher than those fruit sold at regular markets.
Another research would be needed to investigate the educational level of customers.  However, it seems that the purchasers are educated as they purchase on behalf of large sized enterprises and/or higher income level consumers.
10. Major factors affecting the popularization of new or exotic fruit
Japanese customers are very specific about quality and safety. These factors are much more important than price competitiveness. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) reported initiatives related to food safety and risk management processes.
At present, internet usage in Japan is more than 80%. Due to this situation, many consumers can easily search product information and evaluation. In addition, other types of information can easily be disseminated to many people, therefore, suppliers’ activities are always monitored by the consumers.
Ideal approach:
In the case of avocadoes, Japanese consumers have variety of recipe to enjoy this fruit. It is currently imported as tropical fruit, used for cooking. Some Japanese prefer to eat avocadoes with soy source and “wasabi”, which is traditional spicy paste used for sushi. Given the fact that the new recipe has been developed in Japan, tropical fruit suppliers need to provide information on how to cook, how to eat, etc. More importantly, suppliers have to sell the recipe, and not other material.
If the product quality meets consumers’ needs, growers and/or suppliers are able to earn more profit. For instance, Mexican avocadoes are sold at more than US$2 at premium super market. Japanese consumers are more and more conscious about food safety particularly after the disaster in 2011. Tracking system and visibility are necessary in order to penetrate the Japanese consumer market.
This situation would be a burden to exporters in the Japanese market, yet high quality and safe products can be accepted at higher value to the demanding consumers, which is considered positive development as far as growers are concerned.
In order to pursue these initiatives, the following aspects will be needed:
1. Quality control by farmers to attract consumers in high value market;
2. Postharvest treatment to maintain good quality while being transported
3. Provision of valuable information to consumers
From another perspective, marketing effort is an important factor to make tropical fruit more popular in Japan. In addition to functionality and nutrition of tropical fruit, promotional activity is a key to penetrate the product in the Japanese market. In order to promote the products efficiently, media strategy needs to be developed such as social network system.
Visibility in the production process is also critical to assure quality control. At the same time, traceability is important in order to convince safety-conscious customers.
11. Price difference between imported tropical fruit and domestic substituted fruit
The following table represents a comparison of major tropical fruit available in the Japanese market. In this analysis, quality difference is not considered among domestic products. In the currency conversion, Japanese Yen is converted to US$ at 1/100.
Imported products are not necessarily more expensive than domestic products. For instance, avocadoes are cheaper compared to other domestic products. One factor is zero tariff and this can be an advantage in the promotion of imported avocado.
In the case of pineapples, the domestic type are sold at JPY300 (approx. US$3 at 1US$ = 100JPY) at direct retail shop at Ishigaki island of Okinawa (see Fig. 25). This price is slightly lower than that of the Philippines which are sold at premium supermarket in Tokyo. However, domestic product at Ishigaki island is a commodity product compared to the Philippines’ high value product.
For instance, papayas (2 pieces package) imported from the Philippines are sold at JPY398 (US$3.98) vs. Ishigaki island’ (one piece) is at around JPY350-650 (US$3.5 – 6.5 at 1US$ = 100JPY).
Domestic mango price is still high (e.g. Miyazaki) primarily due to high production cost in greenhouses except in the Okinawa area. At the premium supermarket, discounted price of domestic mangoes (variety is Irwin) is JPY1,990 (US$19.9 at 1US$ = 100JPY) (see Fig. 26).
Fig. 29 and Fig. 30 show imported dragon fruit at premium supermarket in Tokyo and domestic one at local market in Okinawa. The retail price of imported one is JPY298 (apprx. US$2.98 at 1US$ = 100JPY), which is much lower than the domestic type. Price of domestic dragon fruit is JPY400-500 (approx. US$4-5 at 1US$ = 100JPY). This is due to production volume of dragon fruit in Japan is small.
12. Annual volume and value of processed tropical fruit produce from 2008-2013
This information is currently not available. Government primarily provides fresh fruit volume and there is no specific data for processed foods. This area needs to be investigated further.
With respect to retail price of processed food, example of coconut oil is introduced in Section 13.
13. Major processed types of processed tropical fruit produce (e.g., frozen, canned, dried, etc.)
In most cases, imported tropical fruit are canned. Popular product is canned pineapple and it has been distributed in Japan since 1960s to 1970s. 
In the case of pineapple, domestic canned pineapple was produced in Okinawa in the 1960s. Due to free trade momentum, regulation of frozen pineapple import to Japan in 1970s.
Post-harvest treatment:
When the products are imported to Japan, exporters who practice good postharvest treatments normally excel and succeed in the trade. Japanese consumers are sticklers for chemical treatment, contained chemical level needs to as minimal as possible and it has to be disclosed to make the product reliable.
The other case of processed food is bottled coconut oil. At the supermarket in Tokyo, three types of products are sold – regular coconut oil, organic coconut oil and virgin coconut oil. Retail price is JPY790, JPY 1,600 and JPY1,980.
14.  On-going research and development for promoting in-country production of tropical fruit
Firstly, distribution channel for imported products in Japan is challenging as the conventional fruit distribution is much mature. Although this channel is stable and there is a national network, profitability is still low primarily driven by long distribution.
Secondly, the biggest challenge is how to maintain quality of the products in order to meet demanding customers’ needs. Quality and freshness are the key factors. It is necessary that there is good quality management practiced during transportation from source location to the imported country. If the products are transported by air, the quality and freshness are maintained as the importation period is short. However, the cost is much higher than those that are transported by sea. On the other hand, sea transport is an appropriate method for export. But quality management process during sea transport still needs to be developed. 
Thirdly, due to consumers’ increasing consciousness about food safety, tropical fruit exporters should comply with visible process of production. For instance, the GAPs concept is more and more popular in agricultural market in Japan. In order to promote tropical fruit in the Japanese market, exporters should consider weather this process management is activated.
In addition, the export business needs to generate appropriate profits. Therefore, profitable business models have to be developed. In order to realize this sustainable business, the best practices of tropical fruit exports to the Japanese market should be promoted. From a marketing perspective, branding is important for Japanese consumers.  Establishing a good brand image could be a key to success in the Japanese market. Thus branding strategy is also considered in the next step. From the growers perspective, global warming has a positive effect because tropical fruit will be a future profitable venture for farmers. In order to go and move foreward, the aforesaid areas would be needed to perform research.
Tropical fruit market in Japan:
Demand of fruit market in Japan has been changing over the last 30 years, which is a positive factor to develop the imported tropical fruit market. Imported fruit are increasing due to variety of consumers’ preferences. Due to global warming, planting area of domestic fruit is moving to the northern part in Japan. This trend supports the  introduction of more varieties of tropical fruit in Japan. The country is expecting markets for tropical fruit exporters to Japan if the products can meet consumers’ needs in terms of quality, safety and functionality. The challenge for fruit distributors in Japan is to attract consumers from a quality perspective. It is true that Japanese consumers are demanding, but on the other hand, there will be more opportunities to introduce high value products to generate profit by suppliers.
Growing market for tropical fruits:
Currently product range is varied and growers are producing more species. Tropical fruit market is also growing in Japan, i.e., avocado, mango, durian, mangosteen, etc.
Conventional long distribution channel:
National distribution channel has been managed by JA in the Japanese market. This channel (ZEN NOH: National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations) functions to provide a stable fruit supply to consumers as well as price control in Japan. However, margin for growers is limited due to marketing and distribution roles handled by ZEN NOH and quality requirements.
Demanding consumers:
Japanese consumers are very specific in terms of quality and safety management. This situation would be a burden to exporters in the Japanese market, yet high quality and safe products can be accepted at higher value to the demanding consumers, which is positive to growers.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs):
Many farmers in Japan are adopting GAPs certification. This certification is to assure that the farm is well managed in terms of cultivation, production and safety. It ensures reliability of the goods produced by that farmer.
Own distribution and value-added products:
Successful growers are managing multiple distribution channels such as conventional Coop network and their own distribution channel such as farmers’ market, internet, etc. In addition, growers are developing original processed foods.
Food Communication Project (FCP):
FCP is an activity to visualize the food supply chain and to provide information to consumers related to stakeholders in the supply chain process. Government (MAFF) is focused on this project.
Based on the market environment in Japan, the following approaches are recommended.
1. Original distribution:
Conventional fruit distribution is much mature. Although this channel is stable and national network, profitability is low primarily driven by long distribution.
2. Quality & functionality:
If the product quality meets consumers’ needs, growers and/or suppliers are able to earn more profit. For instance, Mexican avocado is sold at more than US$2 at premium supermarkets.
3. Safety & disclosure:
Japanese consumers are more conscious about food safety particularly after the disaster in 2011. Tracking system and visibility are necessary in order to penetrate the discriminating tastes and preferences of the Japanese consumers market.
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery. 2014. Report for food, agriculture and farm, 2014. Nikkei Insatsu Publications (Japan). pp. 40-122.
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Fig. 1. All fruits import volume since 2004 in (MT).



Fig. 2. Proportion of major imported fruit in 2013. Banana represents total volume of

(1) plantain and (2) bananas (breakdown is shown in section 2.).


Fig. 3. Import volume of banana since 2009 in MT.


Fig. 4. Import volume of pineapple since 2009 in kg.



Fig. 5. Import volume of avocado since 2009 in kg.



Fig. 6. Conventional distribution channel of agricultural products in Japan.



Fig. 7. Value chain reduction for exporters for the Japanese market.



Fig. 8. Major seasons for anthesis and fruition in Okinawa, Japan.



Fig. 9. Proportion of preference for domestic products choice in 2013.
Fig. 10. Number of acquired certification of Japanese GAPs since 2007.
Fig. 11. Farmers status of Japanese GAPs certification by category.
Fig. 12. Trade mark of Japanese GAPs certification.
Fig. 13. Papaya at supermarket.
Fig. 14. Mangosteen at supermarket.
Fig. 15. Banana at supermarket.
Fig. 16. Pineapple at supermarket.
Fig. 17. Avocados at supermarket.
Fig. 18. Non-chemical lemons at supermarket.
Fig. 19. Mahachano mangoes at supermarket. 
Fig. 20. Nam doc mai mangoes at supermarket.
Fig. 21. Mandarins at supermarket. 
Fig. 22. Grapes at supermarket.
Fig. 23. Durian at local market.
Fig. 24. Passion fruit at local market.
Fig. 25. Domestic pineapples at local market.
Fig. 26. Domestic mangoes at premium supermarket.
Fig. 27. Imported papayas at premium supermarket.
Fig. 28. Domestic papayas at local market.
Fig. 29. Imported dragon fruit at premium supermarket.
Fig. 30. Domestic dragon fruit at local market.
Fig. 31. Coconut oil (regular & organic) at supermarket.
Fig. 32. Coconut oil (virgin oil) at supermarket.
Table 1. Import volume of bananas by country in kg with proportion in 2013.
Table 2. Import volume of plantain by country since 2009 with proportion in 2013.
Table 3. Import volume of pineapple by country since 2009 in kg with proportion in 2013.
Table 4. Import volume of avocado by country since 2009 in kg with proportion in 2013.
Table 5. Import volume of mango by country since 2009 in kg with proportion in 2013.
Table 6. Import volume of papaya by country since 2009 in kg with proportion in 2013.
Table 7. Major species and varieties by country.
Table 8. Mandatory investigation item by country, food and pesticide.
Table 9. Monitoring items by country, food and pesticide.
Table 10. Tariff range of banana by season.
Table 11. Tariff range of banana by season and country.
Table 12. Tariff range of pineapple by type.
Table 13. Tariff range of pineapple by season and country.
Table 14. Tariff range of avocado by category.
Table 15. Tariff range of avocado by country.
Table 16. Price difference between imported tropical and domestic fruit.

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