According to Japan National Tax Agency data*, consumption of wine is up over the last decade, along with whiskey and liquors, while the consumption of beer, Happoshu, Shochu, and Sake have all fallen.
Young People Reject Traditional Drinks
Japan has a broad base of wine connoisseurs who began learning to enjoy wine in the 1980’s and 90’s. They are now a large part of the older population with considerable disposable income to purchase wines. As Japan’s population ages, the market for high quality wines increased.
Globally, young people are rejecting traditional drinks in favor of newer and lighter varieties. However, individuals in their 20’s have a decreasing interest in the “drinking culture” which greatly influences overall alcohol consumption in Japan. Ready-to-Drink (RTD) can be purchased in convenient stores and cater to the younger generation. A couple of examples are canned Chu-hi (fruit cocktail) and Highball (whiskey with soda).
According to the research conducted in 2016, only 15% of Japanese women regularly drink any kind of alcohol, as opposed to over 40% of men. However, the person who decides which wine to drink tends to be female.
Japan wines are becoming more visible in retail stores and some restaurants, as consumers appreciate domestic production and view Japan wine as high quality. Wine that contains only domestic ingredients can be classified and labeled as a “Japan Wine”.
Strong Image of French Wines
While France carries the strongest image for wine in Japan, its bottled wine market share continues to decline steadily due primarily to competition from new world wines. The older generation connoisseurs who learned about wine with French wines have a large influence on Japanese sommelier society. Industry experts, therefore, forecast that despite the shrinking market of French wine, demand in Japan will continue to be strong.
Napa Valley resonates well with Japanese consumers and it is now associated with high quality wine.
Japan is a premium wine market for the United States, where U.S. wine brands are favored for their innovation, desirable flavor profile, sweetness, and high alcohol content. Napa Valley resonates well with Japanese consumers and it is now associated with high quality wine.
Chilean wine now dominates in the lower price segments, selling very well at supermarkets and convenience stores. Chile became the largest supplier on a quantity basis and second largest on a value basis Chile.
Australian bottled wine imports have fallen from their peak in 2012, but have plateaued in recent years.
Imports of bottled Italian decreased marginally in 2018.
Spanish wines sell very well in convenience stores and supermarkets. Spanish wine is viewed favorably in the lower priced range.
Organic Wine: Japanese consumers are very health oriented. Organic and Biodynamic wines have attracted more attention in 2018.
All levels of Restaurants list Wines
Both food service and retail consumption of wine are robust as many consumers show interest in wine as the market offers a wide price range and different wine varieties, especially in urban areas like Tokyo and Osaka.
Most retail stores such as supermarkets, convenience stores, discount stores shelve a variety of wines at different pricing levels, which attracts customers to their stores. Half bottles have recently stood out on shelve as well.
Even small size sushi restaurants will offer a few labels of wine.
Recently, supermarkets have expanded the variety of wine and liquor offerings, but supermarkets generally rely on importers for their product lineup.
Restaurants that offer premium wines are mostly French, Italian and Spanish restaurants. Today, all levels of restaurants have wine options. The pricing will depend on the quality of the restaurant. Even small size sushi restaurants will offer a few labels of wine. Low-cost chain restaurants will serve bag-in-box type wines.
Internet purchases of wines are growing in Japan.
The older population is wine connoisseur who learned about wine with French wines
Young people are rejecting traditional drinks
Only 15% of Japanese women regularly drink any kind of alcohol
Japan wines are becoming more visible in retail stores