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Snack foods in Japan - statistics & facts

The snack foods industry in Japan offers a wide variety of small treats in sweet and savory flavors, including both traditional Japanese and foreign products. Due to the growing influence of Western snacks, the domestic snack food business keeps expanding, with new products continuously entering the Japanese market. The domestic production of confectionery and snack foods floated steadily at around two million metric tons in the last decade, while the snack food market ranked third on a global scale.

Japanese snack foods

The Japanese snack food industry is dominated by domestic enterprises such as Lotte Group, Meiji Holdings Co., Ltd., and Calbee, Inc., while Mondelez International Inc., Nestlé SA, and Mars Inc. are successfully representing global manufacturers. Other contributors include major beverage businesses, such as Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd., that expanded their portfolios to include the manufacturing of confections.
Savory snacks in the Japanese market are predominately referring to puffed or deep-fried products, with wheat flour-based crackers (senbei) and rice crackers being top sellers. Sweet snacks encompass a wider array of confections ranging from traditional sweets (wagashi) to western style confectioneries (yô-namagashi), candy, and chewing gum. Especially wagashi and chocolate represent staple products of domestic confectionery manufacturing. Their significance is further boosted by the Japanese culture of buying souvenirs (omiyage) after travels.

Snacking and health

Despite the wide range of snack products, snacking is not necessarily a common habit among Japanese. Stimulated by consumer’s increasing awareness of the domestic health food market, snack food manufacturers are required to adapt to changes by introducing healthier snacking options. An emerging top seller is high-cocoa chocolate, chocolate products with a cocoa content of over 70 percent. Market leaders including Meiji and Lotte have introduced their product lines on the domestic market. The marketing success of manufacturers is reflected in the growing interest among consumers in the sweet treat, as advertised health benefits of cacao and polyphenol are considered a major reason for eating chocolate.

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Snack foods in Japan

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