|TOKYO, HOKKAIDO, Aug. 16 – Japanese milk and dairy products are becoming increasingly popular abroad, as many inbound visitors to Japan have become fans of sold at convenience stores and all different kinds of ice creams with flavors unique to Japan after their Japan visit. Japan’s exports of milk and dairy products increased by more than 20% in value from a record high in the previous year, and dairy producers and industry groups are trying to take the opportunity to increase exports and the consumption of inbound travelers by making solid efforts.
Consumption growing in Asia
According to the Farm Ministry of Japan, the country’s exports of milk and dairy products in the first half of 2023 (January to June) jumped 20% from the previous year to 16.9 billion yen. Most of them are powdered milk, mostly made from imported raw materials. but the market for long-life (LL) milk and ice cream made from domestic milk is expanding mainly in Asia.
Ice cream is especially popular. In the first half of 2023, Japan’s exports of ice cream and other milk-based frozen desserts rose nearly 30% from the previous year to reach 4.7 billion yen. “They like ice cream with Japanese flavors. Many became fans after eating soft-serve ice cream in Hokkaido, too,” an industry source said.
Japan needs to balance the supply and demand of raw milk domestically, but dairy producers also focus on their overseas expansion. Yotsuba Milk Products Co., Ltd. produces milk in Hokkaido and exports to Taiwan and Singapore in cartons featuring Hokkaido, a well-known brand for milk at home and abroad. “Our exports are growing year by year, especially in Taiwan,” the Sapporo-based company said.
Promoting “Milk after bath” tradition
Promotions targeting inbound tourists are also active. Kanto Seinyu Hanren, a milk producers’ and sellers’ association in the Kanto region, has created an English page in its website introducing a “tradition” of drinking milk after a bath. It explains where to buy milk in Japan, citing special vending machines in Sento public bathhouses and convenience stores, and why Japanese milk is good and high quality. The Japan Dairy Association, or J-milk, carries out a campaign at major international airports in Japan, distributing cartons of “welcome milk” to arriving travelers.
In the world after the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of visitors from potential markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, Europe, and the U.S. are increasing. The association hopes the gifts will help boost exports to those markets.