The wine buyers of Japan

Japan’s wine market is significant, but stalling. This makes its buyers extremely powerful. Roddy Ropner reports

Photo by Sora Sagano on Unsplash
Photo by Sora Sagano on Unsplash

Japan is an established wine market, the sixth-largest importer worldwide and second largest in Asia. Domestically, both consumer expenditure and salaries have risen since 2017, while the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement that came into effect in February lowers the cost of European imports. Furthermore, strong demand continues for organic, sparkling and high-end still wines. However, following a decade of growth the market overall has stalled in the past two years and per capita consumption remains low at 3 litres. A long-term concern is the ageing population, with more than half of wine drinkers aged over 55, while younger generations are drinking less or turning to alternatives such as ready to drink (RTD) beverages. In October, the government plans to raise the consumption tax from 8% to 10%, which will dent consumer confidence. Within this context, retail and on-premises buyers are working hard to offer value for money and stimulate demand. 


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