At Foodex, Asia’s largest food and drink exhibition, in Tokyo, last month (March), Spanish sausage and cured ham producers secured orders after showing previously interested parties their updated products.
The development builds on solid demand in Japan for Spain’s frozen meats, which made up the largest share of all Spanish meat exports to Japan in 2018, according to the Spanish embassy in Tokyo.
Sausage producer El Hórreo Healthy Food, based in Noreña, Asturias, northern Spain, has reported gaining greater orders for its black pudding and chorizo thanks to “the increased number of Spanish restaurants in Tokyo”.
Also, the brand’s Master Grill Artisan Sausages will enter supermarkets and delis in Japan for the first time this year. The pre-cooked sausages, which include lemon-parsley and cheese varieties, contain 30% less salt and will be sold in Japan in packs of five sausages of 70g each, rather than two sausages of 100g each for the European market.
A boil symbol has also been added to the BBQ and fry pan symbols on the packaging as more than half of consumers in Japan prefer this method of cooking sausages.
“Our sausages are all gluten-free, lactose-free and many are additive-free, which has also proven attractive to Japanese buyers,” said Alfonso Teston, the firm’s export manager, adding that the high quality of its meat and original flavours have also proved appealing.
Meanwhile, Spanish cured ham producers are also gaining traction in Japan. Anton Janssen, managing director of LorFood, the export arm of cooked meat producer Incarlopsa, based in Tarancón, central Spain, told GMN that interest in Spanish meats in Japan has also prompted a review of production, prompting the firm to reduce their cured ham lines to 3.5g of salt per 100g, a reduction of 0.5g.
“Before, buyers were more interested in [frozen] meat, not cured ham. This year [at Foodex], interest was in Serrano and Ibérico, which Japanese people know more and more. They are interested in unique products,” he said.
Ángela Allende Gámiz, of the Spanish embassy’s Economic and Commercial Office of Spain, in Tokyo, hopes the interest brings 2019 export levels to “similar or better” than that of 2018. In 2018, Spain exported 111,670 tonnes of meat-related products to Japan, valued at US$526.8m.
“For our producers and exporters, the Japanese market is the second-most important globally, after the Chinese market. Spanish meat exports to Japan keep increasing every year. Lately, the most popular Spanish meat product in terms of quantity is frozen meat. In terms of quality, bone-in Ibérico ham is the most popular,” she said.
One Japanese pork producer told GMN that growth in Spanish meat imports is fuelled by the rising popularity of ready-to-eat meats, particularly cured ham and chorizo that can be enjoyed with cheese, which is also experiencing a boom.