Prospects for the stonefruit industry in Japan are looking poor, with the country’s economic slump, ageing population and consumer shift away from fresh fruit consumption identified as some of the primary drivers, the FreshFruitPortal reports.
Despite these products likely to continue as staple items in spring and summer, a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) report has labelled market growth prospects for the industry as “grim”.
“Fruit is not traditionally a staple in Japanese meals. It is considered primarily a snack or a dessert item. Compared to other developed and developing countries in the world, Japan’s per capita consumption of fruit is among the lowest at 140g a day, less than half of what is consumed in the United States,” the report said.
“Although domestic cherries and imported cherries are compatible in the Japanese fruit market, both face the challenge of stagnant fruit consumption. Post estimates that per capita consumption of cherries averages about 200g to 240g annually.”
Despite the negative outlook, cherry and peach production rates are set to buck the trend of declining production with a rise forecast the 2013/14 season.
Cherry production is anticipated to rise by 4.5 per cent to 18,600 tonnes, although this is still down 8.8 per cent from production levels in 2011.
Peaches are also slightly up after a season of smaller size fruit, resulting from higher temperatures and drier weather.
The fresh produce industry is also hopeful that consumer fears over radioactive nuclude contamination following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear powerpoint failure will continue to be alleviated by the rigorous testing conducted by the Japaense Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare to ensure produce safety.