Sake sellers in Japan are looking to tap into the Chinese market to save the counter failing of its consumption.It can now be found in many restaurants and department stores in major Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing.
More than 110 Japanese firms gathered to promote Japanese food and agricultural products including sake in the 2nd China International Import Expo in Shanghai.
Japanese stalls were crowded with potential client on the first day of the expo looking to get a taste of sake or a mouthful of Japan-grown rice.
Ikekame Shuzo’s general manager Akinori Oishi, revealed that the Fukuoka-based brewery’s overseas sales have grown 150% over the past five years, with China leading the growth.
Moreover, a number of Japanese liquor vendors at the fair agered at Oishi’s enthusiasm for the potential of the rice-based wine in the China.
According to trade data compiled by the Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association Overall sake exports have tripled in the past decade. Exports to China, ranked third after the United States and South Korea making it the fastest growing market for sake exports.
It was a good development despite China’s ban on food imports from Japan’s 10 prefectures The ban was introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster over concerns regarding radioactive contamination.
According yo Oishi, one factor for our growth is that we didn’t have much business in China to begin with. But another is that since Japanese food became a part of Unesco World Heritage, like Washoku, or traditional Japanese cuisine, that was registered on Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013.
According to an employee at the booth for sake giant Ozeki, another factor in the growing popularity of Japanese alcoholic drinks is the increasing number of Chinese people who travel to Japan each year,
Demand for alcoholic beverages including the more pricey imported labels is rising thanks to the growing middle class in China.
Meanwhile, sake consumption in Japan is falling. In 2017, consumption was a third of what it was at its peak in 1973, according to the National Tax Agency.
The decline is being pointed out to the younger generation’s lower consumption of alcohol..But some buyers have complained that sake and fruit liqueurs, which have an alcoholic content of around 15 %, are not strong enough while the traditional Chinese spirit known as baijiu contains up to 50 % alcohol. Others attribute it to the higher price points of sake.
For this reason the sake sellers explained, the concentration of their sales to China will for the time being remain focused on Japanese restaurants and bars.