|Results from Consumer Survey on Japanese Food & Drink Conducted at HYPER JAPAN|
|Wednesday, 28 March 2012|
HYPER JAPAN 2012 Spring was held at Brompton Hall Earls Court on 24-26 February 2012, and welcomed just under 35,000 visitors over the three days. For the first time, the event featured the Eat-Japan Event Area, which combined three culinary-themed events. Event participants were invited to fill in a questionnaire, the completion ratio for which was 85%. The survey results have now been compiled, and prove interesting reading for anyone involved with Japanese food and drink on a professional basis.
Eat-Japan Area Events
1. Taste Discovery Zone
A three-day program of demonstrations, seminars and tastings, introducing both well-known favourites such as sushi and sake, and increasingly popular choices, such as katsu curry and yaki udon, as well as dorayaki, white chocolate and matcha truffles, and umeshu. 21 classes were held over 3 days, with 630 people attending.
See the details here
2. Eat-Japan Sushi Awards: UK Sushi Roll Championship 2012
Five leading chefs from five Japanese restaurants in the U.K. gathered under one roof to present to tasting voucher holders their very own unique sushi roll. Voucher holders then voted for their favourite, and the winner was announced on the final day.
See the results here.
Download the press release here.
3. Eat-Japan Sake Awards: Top Brewery Taste-Off
Seven sake breweries each presented one of their sake and a paired snack to tasting voucher holders, who then voted for their favourite sake in a number of different categories, including overall favourite and naming sense.
See the results here.
Download the press release here.
1) 13% of participants were Japanese, with the remainder non-Japanese residents of the U.K.;
2) 60% of participants lived in London;
These results indicate how the Eat-Japan Area at HYPER JAPAN experienced strong attendance from students and young professionals, who represent the future of the Japanese food and drink market in the U.K..
Japanese Home Cooking: Heating Up in U.K. Kitchens
1. It is clear that eating Japanese food prepared outside the home, in restaurants or as a takeaway meal, is becoming an increasingly regular part of many people's lives: the top response to the question of how many times respondents bought Japanese food outside of the home was “once a month”, following by “once every few months”.
2. By contrast, the top response to the question of how many times Japanese food was prepared in one's own home was “never”, followed by “once a month”, suggesting a very polarised approach to cooking Japanese dishes in the home. However, respondents who had taken part in a Taste Discovery Zone event were enthusiastic about trying out what they had seen at home: 84% responded that the dish seemed simple to recreate at home, with 86% responding that they intended to try it out. This suggests that while many people are interested in Japanese food, they need a gentle nudge in the right direction to actual give it a go. Eat-Japan will be trying to provide just such a nudge in the form of further demonstrations and tastings as well as introducing cookery classes and other relevant information. Of those who responded that they had made Japanese food at home, the outright winner in terms of which dish had been tried was sushi, followed by miso soup in second place, green tea in third, teriyaki in fourth, and tempura in fifth place.
3. In response to the question “What do you look for in Japanese ingredients/food”, the option most frequently ticked was “quality”. The top three locations for purchasing ingredients were: Japanese supermarkets, local supermarkets, and Asian supermarkets.
Eating Japanese Outside the Home: Prices Continue to be Crunched
The survey also sought to establish how much people spent on average when eating in a Japanese restaurant. The most frequently given answer was £10-£20, with the most frequent budget for takeaway Japanese recorded as £5-£10. When shopping for Japanese ingredients, the most likely average spend appears to be between £10 and £20. With a large proportion of area participants being from the younger generations, this result perhaps betrays a preference among those generations for more casual Japanese restaurants with lower prices. The fact that restaurants specialising in a single type of Japanese food—such as udon, curry, or ramen—have appeared more frequently of late may also be of relevance in the analysis of these results.
Delicious, Healthy and Nutritious: and at Home in the U.K.
Respondents were asked about their perception of Japanese food, and the top responses were as follows: (1) delicious, (2) healthy, (3) nutritious. The combination of the great taste and the health benefits of Japanese food has long sparked interest in non-Japanese diners; this balance could well be the main reason why Japanese cuisine is enjoyed so widely across sexes, generations, and nationalities. Also ranking were “good service (in restaurants)”, “suitability for vegetarians”, and the “intricacy” of the food. These results provide important hints for the future of Japanese food and drink and consumer trends in the future. Other options, including “not sure how to order or eat”, “fashionable/cool”, and “pricey” scored low, clearly showing just how far Japanese food has become embedded in to the U.K. dining market.
Classes Dishes Still Dominate: Sushi & Tempura
The top ten Japanese dishes/ingredients, as shown by our survey, were: 1. Sushi; 2. Tempura; 3. Miso soup; 4. Sashimi; 5. Green tea ; 6. Teriyaki; 7. Ramen; 8. Tofu; 9. Curry; 10. Yakisoba. Although the winner's podium was dominated by more orthodox dishes, casual Japanese dishes are also creeping up the ranks, in the form of ramen, yakisoba and curry. It seems likely that these more everyday dishes will continue to rise in popularity in the coming months and years.
Eat-Japan Sake Awards: Information on Consumer Preference Trends, On Tap
1. Interestingly, the results about how often participants drunk sake were split fairly evenly into three distinct groups, each of around a third: (1) 1/2 times a year, (2) hardly ever & today is the first time, and (3) 1/2 times/month & more often.
2. The most common location to drink sake was in a restaurant, followed by at home, and finally when visiting Japan.
3. In order to gauge the existing perception of sake among U.K. drinkers, they were asked to choose terms which described their impression of Japanese sake. The highest answer was “something drunk warm/hot”, following by “high alcohol”, and then “something new”. We have seen a rise in the number of London restaurants employing sake sommeliers, which in turn is helping to increase the number of people who are learning how to pair sake with food, select according to taste, and drink cold, hot or at room temperature as most appropriate to the meal or situation. Although a relatively high number of people gave “high alcohol” as one of their strongest impressions of sake, sake traders have pointed out that many people, unfamiliar with the information on sake bottle labels, misread the rice polishing percentage as the abv; the reputation that sake has for being high alcohol is quite often the result of a misunderstanding. Better labelling and better explanations at restaurants and retailers may help to eradicate this mistaken belief.
Favourite Sake Flavours: Fruity, Clean and Light
The top five favourite flavours, as voted for by Sake Awards participants, were: (1) fruity, (2) clean, (3) light, (4) sweet, (5) aromatic. Less popular were options such as heavy, savoury, modern, and spicy. The popularity of fruity and clean flavours certainly support the results, particularly the choice of Dassai 23 from Asahi Shuzo as the People's Choice Sake Award . As Kaoru Iida of Asahi Shuzo said in her winning address, Japanese sake is full of diversity, with each sake having a different combination of flavours and aromas, and the key to enjoying Japanese sake is discovering how to match sake with each situation and meal. The Eat-Japan Sake Awards provided a great opportunity for people in the U.K. to sample multiple sake at the same event, and included a food pairing element too. Eat-Japan certainly hopes to continue to provide similar opportunities in the future.
Going Forward: Making Sake More Accessible, Brand Power without Brand Prices?
Most respondents who had purchased sake had done so at a Japanese supermarket. In terms of where people would like to be able to buy sake, the most popular answer was at local (non-specialist) supermarkets. In fact, Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura Kimono Junmai is available for purchase at some branches of Marks & Spencer, and many participants were delighted to discover that—suggesting that many sake fans in the U.K. are searching for easier and more accessible ways to buy sake on a regular basis.
Comments from Suppliers
”We feel thankful to all the member of sake breweries, and are also pleased to offer goods without any issues as a supplier, since after the Great East Japan Earthquake it has become extremely difficult to import Japanese goods. Sake can expect a bright future in the U.K. as many people showed such a great interest at HYPER JAPAN. We look forward to participate and cooperate in the next Sake Awards.”Hisao Kusuhara, Sales Manager of JFC (UK)
We were an exhibitor at the first HYPER JAPAN and at subsequent events we have provided support to manufacturers taking part in the event. This latest event, the third HYPER JAPAN so far, has really impressed me, particularly in terms of venue organisation and event content. The Eat-Japan Sake Awards is a brand new event but it's provided us with a great opportunity to actually find out what the Great British public thinks about Japanese sake, and I think that HYPER JAPAN is really establishing itself as a must-see event for anyone with an interest in Japanese culture”. Yasuki Kitabayashi, Director, S.K.Y. Enterprises UK
“We helped out with three of the sake at the Sake Awards— Dassai 23 (Asahi Shuzo), Sho Chiku Bai Shirakabegura Kimoto Junmai (Takara Shuzo), Otokoyama Junmai (Otokoyama)—and were delighted to see each of these sake receive such great feedback. We were delighted to see just how much British and European people are becoming interested in sake. We hope that many more restaurants and retailers will show an interest in Japanese sake in the future”. Masa Shozaki, Sales Executive of Tazaki Foods
The final report on survey results will be made available very soon on the JETRO website. We'll let you know as soon as they are uploaded.