For fresh fruit and vegetable marketing and distribution in Asia
Matthew Jones



Wednesday 13th February 2019, 13:29 Hong Kong

Bananas lead the way in Japan

Imports exceed 1m tonnes in 2018, with shipments of kiwifruit and grapes also up year-on-year

Bananas lead the way in Japan

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Japanese banana imports have topped the 1m tonne mark for the first time in six years, according to data released by Tokyo Seika Trading.

A total of 1.01m tonnes of bananas were shipped to the Asian nation over the 2018 calendar year, with the Philippines accounting for over 80 per cent of this trade.

Bananas were comfortably Japan’s leading fruit import by volume in 2018, ahead of pineapples (106,082 tonnes, up from 156,962 tonnes in 2017) and kiwifruit (106,082 tonnes, up from 92,981 tonnes in 2017). New Zealand is well positioned to capitalise on Japan’s growing love affair with kiwifruit, supplying 95 per cent of import volumes last year.

A total of 74,096 tonnes of avocados were shipped to Japan in 2018, an increase of 122 per cent on 2017, while table grape imports came in at 37,095 tonnes, an increase of 118 per cent year-on-year. The US was Japan’s leading supplier of table grapes, with a market share of 42.7 per cent, while Australia accounted for 29.1 per cent of the trade, ahead of Southern Hemisphere competitor Chile (24.7 per cent).

Orange import volumes dipped to their lowest level in 10 years in 2018 (81,593 tonnes), while grapefruit imports continued to follow a pattern of incremental decline over the past decade, coming in at 74,096 tonnes. Grapefruit was among the highest-ranking imported fruits in 2009, with a volume of 178,912 tonnes.

The figures largely mirror trends within overall household consumption of fresh fruit in Japan. Bananas were the most commonly consumed fruit in 2018, with each household consuming an average 18.45kg. Average apple consumption fell from 10kg per household in 2017 to 9.49kg in 2018, while mandarin consumption dipped to 9.49kg per household, down from 10.01kg a year earlier. Bananas (25.8 per cent), apples (14.5 per cent) and mandarins (13.3 per cent) made up 53.6 per cent of the 71.39kg of fresh fruit consumed on average by each Japanese household in 2018.

Figures comparing 2009 and 2018 show average household consumption has declined on almost every fresh fruit line over the 10 year period. Kiwifruit is one exception, with volumes up 150.6 per cent.   

Grapefruit consumption has taken a dramatic fall over the past 10 years, with averages dropping from 2.66kg per household in 2009 to 0.75kg in 2018.

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