Fiber: The golden ingredient in Japan’s promising cereal sector

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Breakfast cereal Breakfast Rice Japan

Fiber deficit in Japan spells opportunities for cereal manufacturers, suggests Canadean
Fiber deficit in Japan spells opportunities for cereal manufacturers, suggests Canadean
Fiber is a core selling point of breakfast cereal in Japan given the low dietary intake in the country, says a Canadean analyst.

Japan’s $396m cereal sector is set to grow in value at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.4% between 2012 and 2017, according to Canadean data. In volume terms, the sector will surge by 3.9%.

“Breakfast cereal in Japan is at its mid-point, where it is established but not at a mature point yet. There is still room to grow,”​ said Ronan Stafford, reports analyst at Canadean.

Stafford told that when it comes to marketing a breakfast cereal in the country, fiber is the all-important ingredient.

“Fiber is definitely something that is important in Japan and to consumers because dietary fiber intake tends to be quite low, particularly among younger consumers. This is just due to eating habits and the diet,”​ he said.

Health and on-the-go

Much of the growth and promise of Japan’s cereal sector is down to demographic drivers, Stafford said.

“You have a rapidly ageing population in Japan,”​ he said, and so health is increasingly important. Just under one quarter (24%) of the population are aged 65 and over compared to just 12-13% under the age of 14.

“Tied into that, you have a lot more single households and kids staying at home with their parents – so consumers are looking for more convenience… People are trying to squeeze more activities into the day,”​ he said.

“Convenience and health benefits are the key points of interest for Japanese consumers when it comes to cereal,”​ he added.

Competing with tradition

Unlike other global markets, breakfast cereals in Japan face direct competition from traditional meals and meal times. A typical Japanese breakfast involving rice, pickles and soup takes time to prepare and eat, Stafford said, so emphasizing the convenient aspect of cereal appeals.

“Communicating the health aspect of cereals too is extremely important when directly competing with traditional meals, because there’s the potential for a drop off in nutrition quality when replacing a traditional meal,”​ he said.

Kellogg holds nearly half the market share in Japan. Photo Credit:marlenehutchins
Kellogg holds nearly half the market share in Japan. Photo Credit:marlenehutchins

Kellogg: Market leader moves

International brand presence in Japan’s cereal market has also stimulated a lot of growth, Stafford said.

Canadean data suggests that Kellogg held a 40% market share in 2012 – way ahead of domestic brands like Furugura (10%) and Calbee (9%).

“There is a very large gap between Kellogg and domestic brands. This is because Kellogg is very effective at targeting the health needs with ‘high in fiber’ and ‘high in vitamin’ claims on their products. They also have the marketing budget to spend – which does go a very long way,”​ he said.

Kellogg very recently launched a new health-focused product on the market – Brown Rice Flakes with Honey. “The brown rice aspect has health connotations and the honey gives the impression of a good taste, while at the same time holding lots of health connotations,”​ Stafford said.

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