Asia > Eastern Asia > Japan > Agribusiness to Japan Trends and opportunities

Japan: Agribusiness to Japan Trends and opportunities


Agribusiness to Japan

(Last updated: 26 Oct 2010)

Trends and opportunities

The market

It is well known that Japan is one of the largest inport markets for agricultural products and we see ongoing opportunities in many sectors. Japan relies heavily on foreign’s commodities in the agricultural sector and traceability, environmental sustainability, and safety are core elements necessary for success when entering the market. 

Areas of focus include:

  • Feed and fodder
  • Equine products (including race and sports horses)
  • Natural fibres 
  • Cut flowers and foliage
  • Agri services (including production management consulting and water management)

Joint venture production and contract farming are also gaining strong interest, so we see significant opportunities to find investment partners.

Japan’s low self-sufficiency rate (currently estimated at around 40 per cent) means that Japan is heavily reliant on imports of finished food products, food ingredients, fodder for livestock, natural fibres or related agricultural commodities. This makes Japan a leading buyer of a range of agricultural produce, including wheat, sugar, barley, livestock feeds (such as hay and feed barley), and certain oilseeds (mainly canola and cottonseed), wool, cotton and processed/half-processed products.

Many traditional food products are now heavily reliant on supply from foreign import, like the ‘udon’ noodles that use over 90 per cent Australian wheat, and many leading Japanese companies have established facilities in forreign countries, to secure long- term supply and food security.

In this competitive environment, Japan has also become more conscious of food safety and traceability in supply chains and thanks to significant advances in production methods and a higher awareness of the need to trace products amongst foreign producers, we are well placed as a nation to establish strong links with Japanese buyers over the long term if we can market our strengths effectively.

The market is not only demanding to know where agricultural products come from and how they are produced, but also what is fed to livestock and how that feedstock is produced. Such systems have been received well and will likely become the minimum standard required to be considered as a supplier in this market. 

Central authorities are also making changes to requirements on food producers to eliminate food safety issues such as BSE. Dairy and beef producers in Japan must now provide production certificates on feed given to livestock which show no trace of chemicals, pesticides or bone meal. These tough new regulations definitely place Australian suppliers that have product traceability systems in place in a very good position to increase their share in the market.

It is clear that opportunities exist for foreign suppliers and the Japan agribusiness team is strategically placed to assist with Australian branding initiatives across key sub-sectors to meet the demands of the market.


Australian agribusinesses companies have been active in Japan for many years and there are market opportunities in the following areas:

  • Fodder with stable quality and supply
  • Non-GM grain products for both human consumption and as feedstock
  • Traceable products back to farm gate
  • Environmentally sustainable natural fibre products 
  • Racing/sports horses and equine-related products
  • Agribusiness-related services
back to top

Tariffs, regulations and customs

Industry standards

These vary according to the product, but as mentioned previously traceability, safety, and environmentally friendly practices are highly valued and have become the minimum standard required for market entry.

Marketing your products and services

Market entry

Tips for market entry in Japan include:

  • Plan partnerships after doing background research, not through chance meetings.
  • Brand your products and provide Japanese customers with extensive support to market your products.
  • Make an effort to understand the requirements of end-users through the value chain, which will help you understand requests from importers.

Maintaining contact and communication with partners is important in Japan to sustain business and grow your market share.
Don’t expect a high level of English fluency with Japanese businesspeople.

Try to use different mediums such as telephone, email, and video-conferencing systems to make sure you understand each other well. We often advise clients to treat their business partner as a member of their family and give them regular updates, even if there is no major news to report.

By supporting Japanese partners’ promotional activities, you will come to understand Japanese business culture and user needs. Japanese customers seek strong on-the-ground support, and it takes a long time to actually launch a business or any new products.

Regional markets (Hokkaido, Kyushu) are also important to consider as well as major urban markets like Tokyo or Osaka. Recent trends have shown groups of farmers banding together to form co-ops, and establishing business links outside the traditional system which is controlled by Japan Agriculture. We see opportunities to work with these new co-ops who are looking to establish strategic direct relationships with overseas suppliers.

Links and industry contacts

Government, business and trade resources for Japan

Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives –
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries –

Related Articles
  • Japan Infrastructure Report

    2012/05/27 更多    
  • IMF Data & Forecasts

    2011/08/11   2010 2015 Scale Units GDP at constant prices 535130.09 586934.32 Billions
  • Metropolitan Areas Of Japan

    2011/06/12   Principal Cities   Name Adm. M Cp 2010-10-01 1 Tōkyō 13 8,949,447 2
  • Clean energy to Japan, Trends and opportunities ,

    2011/03/16 Clean energy to Japan Trends and opportunities The market On 7 September 2009, Prime Minister Hatoyama confirmed that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) would aim to reduce emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, underlining that Japan would also depend on all other major nations joining in a fair and effective framework for regulating emissions.
  • Trends and opportunities

    2011/03/16 Education to Japan (Last updated: 15 Oct 2010)