Japanese Specialty Food for the American Market
While recently in Japan, I had an in-depth look at Japanese specialty food products on grocery store shelves there. I was also conducting shopper research; more on that here. When I think of Japanese food, I personally think of sushi, rice, sake, beer, ramen, beef (Wagyu & Kobe,) and tea. That alone covers a lot of territory, but there’s still so much more that Japan has to offer the world, and more specifically, the American consumer market.
Currently in the US, matcha tea is really having a moment. In Japan, matcha is in everything from smoothies and pancakes to KitKat bars. Other unique flavors in Japanese food products include wasabi, peach, and sakura (cherry blossom.)
Speaking of green, green tea in general is also one of those categories that Japan is famous for already. Tea is certainly already a competitive, crowded category in America, but what I enjoyed most about Japanese tea is the ceremony (or experience) that goes along with it. Falling in line with slow food and mindful eating, making a bit of a ceremony — slowing down to take time to pour a cuppa, is something I think experience-seeking, foodie Americans who love entertaining would enjoy. I myself even bought a traditional, ceramic tea set while in Japan. It’s beautiful (with cherry blossoms on it — see below,) and my children love taking part in pouring into the little tea cups and slowly adding honey. I only just started this earlier this month, but I think it’s a new family tradition we’ll keep for a long time to come.
Another Japanese product that seems to be on some American’s radar just recently is mochi. If you’ve not heard of it, mochi 餅, もち) is Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. It’s similar to ice cream, kind of. If you shop at Whole Foods Market, you’ve definitely seen it. It launched in all stores a couple of years ago and they made a very big deal of it. That’s how I first learned about mochi and tried it for the first time in my local store. I was super curious to see if mochi was really a big deal in Japan or not, and turns out, it is. I wonder who discovered it for Whole Foods Market (anyone know?) Whoever it was, good idea; it’s unique and delicious.
Here are just some of the products I spotted that seem like a good fit for the American market.
Japan has some interesting “street food.” The experience around some of these is so fun and has people lined up to give it a try and take photos of the process.
Are you from a Japanese company that wants to launch into the USA?
Green Purse PR will be back in Tokyo later this year (2019) and we’ll be bringing fresh insights from the American consumer market with us. I’m currently planning one of our Go To Market USA Workshops. These workshops are for exporters and focus on understanding the American consumer market to ensure export success. Each program is customized, but typically includes a half day or full day workshop covering topics such as: the American retail landscape, shopper insights, best practices in consumer marketing, competitive intelligence, resources and a brainstorming and Q&A session.
Contact us for more details on our Go To Market USA Workshop happening later in 2019 in Minato, Tokyo.
- Lisa Mabe-Konstantopoulos, Founder, Green Purse PR