Functional products are central to Japanese bakery and cereal innovation

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: New products, Innovation, Datamonitor

Growing demand for nutritional value, and changing market demographics are providing strong incentive for innovation in Japan, according to Datamonitor.

A new report, produced by business analyst Datamonitor describes a boom in new products with added health benefits, and observes a move towards more Western consumer tends.

Datamonitor reports that phrases like “high vitamins”​, “high fiber”​ and “no preservatives”​ were some of the most commonly found claims on new products introduced to the market last year, suggesting that healthier product innovations could have high appeal to the health conscious sensibilities of many Japanese consumers.

Changing dynamic

However, Datamonitor points out that focusing on the nutritional benefits of goods is just one of many strategies being employed by manufacturers.

Other key factors influencing market trends are thought to be rising Western influences and developing socio-economic demographics.

Longer working hours, shifting household structures, and a growing number of single occupancy households have all played a part in the rising appeal of breads and rolls, and cakes and pastries that are quick and easy to consume when on-the-move, unlike traditional Japanese meals, which can take considerable time and effort to both prepare and eat.

Innovative market

With almost 600 new product launches in 2009, the Japanese bakery and cereal market is undoubtedly dynamic, with manufacturers continuously looking to innovate new bakery products.

“Intense competition and an increasingly demanding consumer have forced manufacturers to be innovative in virtually every aspect including flavors, positioning, and even packaging,”​ said Arvind Arun, Analyst for Datamonitor, and author of the new report.

Datamonitor also says that whilst sales of bakery and cereal products are expected grow slowly, Japan will continue to be one of the top nations for new product innovations.

However, as consumers cut back on spending, it is suggested that many new products will be aimed at the economy price range.

“As competition increases and as consumers become more discerning, manufacturers will have to constantly conjure new ways and means to make their products more desirable,”​ added Arun.

As well as new products with added nutritional value, packaging and sizing is reported to have become an important focus for many manufacturers, as they realize that various pack sizes and improved shelf lives are needed to cater for the changing market.

“Increasing shelf life encourages bulk purchases and, since shopping occasions have fallen owing to lack of time, retailers have understood that the shelf life of a product is an important parameter influencing purchasing decisions,” ​said Arun.

Related topics: Markets

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