The reasons behind such shifts in behavior are multifold, ranging from a heightened sense of awareness in manufacturing processes and ingredients to rising levels of dietary requirements. A growing share of consumers avoid certain food ingredients or attributes for health and fitness purposes, of which the majority aims at losing fat or cutting down calories. As such, consumer awareness of claims on food and beverage products is high, as well as those who actively seek them. While Japanese consumers consider mostly factors such as freshness and taste, organic or environment friendly production are increasingly becoming important attributes when making food purchasing decisions.
As the traditional Japanese diet is already considered to be very balanced, consumers’ desire for natural and health beneficial foods is strong. However, the country’s fast pace and busy lifestyle makes its consumers strongly rely on dietary supplements, accounting for almost half of the domestic functional foods market.
Popular product types include vitamins and dietary supplements, functional beverages such as sports and energy drinks, as well as products fortified with probiotics. The Japanese market has been invigorated by foods containing added value and/or disease-preventing products. Thereby, each single market faces its own challenges. Functional beverage sales, often marketed as quick fix wonder potions for hard-working people on the run, continue to decline as awareness for whole foods and plant-based alternatives rises.
While some people mainly rely on supplements, the Japanese traditionally seek fresh, seasonal dishes to improve their physical and mental condition. As an example, meat-based or spicy meals are often consumed to improve stamina during hot and humid summer days.