Right now you might enjoy a cup of creamy sweet chai for breakfast. But soon it could be bitter green tea, without milk. The Japanese government is targeting India as a key market to export its food products.
Tsukasa Osanai, the deputy director of international trade at the ministry of agriculture and fisheries in Japan, was in Mumbai this week, helping 12 leading food companies promote Japanese food products such as sake, miso soup, tofu and soya bean paste to the Indian hospitality trade here at the World of Food Exhibition in Goregaon.
Osanai said currently India only accounted for 0.2 per cent of Japan’s total food exports, with the highest percent going to Hong Kong, the USA and South Korea.
But he said Japan aimed to export $10 billion (1 trillion yen) worth of Japanese food by 2013, and India was one of the key markets it was focusing on. “The reason is that the market here is huge, the number of consumers is expanding, the scale of the economy and the GDP growth of nine per cent is remarkable,” he said.
“Japanese exports exceed Indian imports but in food Indian exports exceed ours,” Osanai said.
“The most popular exports from Japan worldwide are dried sea cucumber and alcohol, but to India it is confectionary, rehydrated noodles and sauces.”
Takashi Inoue, president of Ohkuraen Co Inc, a Japanese green tea manufacturer, was in Mumbai looking for an Indian distributor. He said if he found on he would be first exporter of authentic Japanese tea to India.
“The green tea on sale in India is Chinese and Korean,” said Takashi Inoue.
“It is not authentic Japanese tea. India has a long tradition of drinking tea so introducing a new tea will be very interesting. Japanese tea has antioxidants which absorb oil and fat and it also contains an abundance of vitamin C which is missing from Indian foods I think it will be popular,” he said.