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In the post epidemic era of
, four strong tracks of trillion Japanese health food market have attracted much attention!
As a “top student” in the Asian food industry, Japan has a “double-edged sword” hanging over its head. How many dark horses finally came out in the fierce battle over the functional food market? Can these category trends become the guiding light on the road of healthy food in China?
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has caused huge economic shocks to all countries, and human beings are facing serious life threats. In this “black swan” incident, the food industry is also under great pressure. It is precisely because of this epidemic crisis that the so-called “double dependence of blessing and misfortune” has rapidly improved people’s health awareness, incubated new ways of eating and living, and expanded new consumer demand and consumption scenes. In this context, the health food market, which has attracted much attention, is like adding another firewood, which is more prosperous.
Now, two years after the outbreak of the epidemic, people have changed from the original panic to numbness, and gradually accepted and adapted to the current situation of symbiosis and coexistence with the new crown. This psychological change is also clearly projected on consumer behavior. Consumers begin to bid farewell to the previous blind and impulsive “shopping” behavior and tend to rationally choose the health products they really need.
In the post epidemic era, after a scuffle, the situation of the global health industry has gradually become clear, and the markets in various regions have shown new development trends. Japan, as the representative of “top students” in Asia, hangs the “double-edged sword” of epidemic disease. In the fierce market competition, how many dark horses finally came out? Can these category trends become the guiding light on the road of healthy food in China?
The surging demand for health creates a dividend market environment
Facing the menacing COVID-19, many countries have launched many emergency measures to deal with it. In addition to strengthening vaccination, Japan’s epidemic prevention work also includes many dimensions, such as popularizing the epidemic prevention knowledge of Xinguan, promoting mask socializing, and announcing the self elimination policy. This series of measures effectively affect the daily life of every resident and imperceptibly transform people’s ideology and behavior.
1. Public health emergencies detonate the “health fever” of the whole people
According to the health survey published by Japanese life insurance company giant Meiji Yasuda, the survey of health related consciousness and action changes caused by home and COVID-19 in Japan shows that about half (45.1%) of the people believe that their health awareness has been improved due to the epidemic situation, which is manifested in “beginning to pay attention to their diet and nutrition (50.9%)”. “Began to pay attention to exercise (35.3%) and” began to pay attention to decompression (22.8%).
source: Meiji Yasuda Life
Although the epidemic situation has promoted the rapid improvement of national health awareness, the status quo of long-term “standby” at home, significant restrictions on social and recreational activities, and the overall economic downturn have also given birth to many health problems. PLanet released the survey of weight loss awareness under COVID-19. The results show that with the popularity of suspension of classes and home office in Japan, residents’ opportunities to go out and participate in sports are reduced, and the rules of diet and work are also gradually becoming chaotic. Compared with before the outbreak of the epidemic, 26.5% of the respondents said they had gained weight, and the average weight gain of the whole age group was 5.6 kg.
Meanwhile, 38.2% of respondents said they felt less physically strong during the epidemic, while 20% of them felt that their immunity had declined. 42.6% of the respondents felt a significant increase in mental stress after the outbreak of COVID-19.
2. Healthy food market ushers in a new round of dividend period
The continuous high health awareness and the urgent physical and mental health problems drive the Japanese people to focus on healthy food. Fuji economy, a market research company, said that in 2020, Japan’s domestic health food market was 1499.9 billion yen, an increase of 0.9% over the previous year, and the market scale will surge to 2.3% in 2021, reaching 1535.2 billion yen.
In Japan, the Ministry of health, labor and welfare divides the so-called health food into “general health food” and “health functional food”. Among them, health functional foods are subdivided into “specific health food”, “nutritional functional food” and “functional expression food”.
source: the idea of digital food (data from the Ministry of health, labor and welfare of Japan)
In 2020, functional food showed outstanding performance, and the market scale climbed to 248.34 billion yen (a year-on-year increase of 11.8%). During the epidemic, consumers who suffered from health threats and felt physically and mentally exhausted greatly increased their demand for food with the function of improving immunity and reducing pressure, so as to create a favorable market environment for functional food.
In addition, compared with specific health food, functional food is favored by capital and has become a must for new and old players because of its natural advantages of lower application difficulty, diversified manifestations, clear product functions and low consumer education cost. A large number of new products will be applied for every year, and its market will further accelerate its expansion. In recent years, more and more ordinary snacks and even fresh foods have joined the ranks of functional expression foods. The expansion of various categories not only expands the consumption scene of consumers, but also brings vitality and heat to the market.
source: Yano Economic Research Institute
At the same time, in order to save the decline of traditional offline sales channels of health food caused by the sharp decline of overseas tourists and the impact of self-cleaning measures in Japan, major brands began to focus on communication and online sales, opening up new opportunities in a desperate situation. The “flowering” of online channels also enables products to “harvest” overseas markets such as China and Southeast Asian countries by relying on overseas orders and cross-border E-commerce while rapidly penetrating the Japanese market.
After the market upgrade and reshuffle, which categories have become strong growth engines
The spread of the epidemic has made Japan’s health food market soar. Nowadays, the days of “epidemic” color change are far away. In the face of COVID-19, people tend to be rational. This indirectly leads the healthy food market to a steady period. After a wave of market boom, when many categories have begun to show fatigue, the four heavenly kings still stand and maintain a gratifying growth trend.
1. The concept of immunity hits people’s hearts, and the lactic acid bacteria beverage market strives for progress while maintaining stability
When novel coronavirus pneumonia can be eradicating completely without specific drugs, people can only expect to enhance their immunity against virus by actively vaccinating. The consumer education of Japanese food giants over the years has already implanted the image of lactic acid bacteria beneficial to health and improving immunity into the minds of consumers.
In 2009, Meiji dairy launched R-1 lactobacillus beverage, opening up a new process of functionalization of lactobacillus beverage. In a popular science program broadcast by Fuji television in 2012, it was introduced that R-1 lactic acid bacteria can reduce the rate of influenza infection, and put R-1 lactic acid bacteria beverage into the leading position in the industry. At the same time, major manufacturers have also launched lactic acid bacteria drinks with various efficacy and performance, such as reducing blood lipid and controlling uric acid. The “spray well” product innovation has brought a wave of climax to the market. However, after a round of rapid expansion, there are more and more players, and the product competition is becoming more and more fierce. At the same time, consumers gradually produce “aesthetic fatigue” for such products. After 2017, under the synergistic influence of many factors, the growth rate of lactic acid bacteria beverage market began to slow down gradually.
Source: Meiji official website
In 2020, due to the spread of COVID-19, the demand for lactic acid bacteria beverages increased dramatically, and the market entered a new round of strong expansion, reaching 167 billion 600 million yen (up 8.6% over the same period last year). Although the lactobacillus beverage market once declined since January 2021, it began to recover gradually after April and maintained a steady growth trend.
source: ksp-pos (food SM)
In this round of rejuvenation, “Kirin imuse” beverage series has become the biggest contributor to the market. As the first functional food claiming to improve immunity, “Kirin imuse” contains plasma lactic acid bacteria independently developed by Kirin to maintain the immune function of healthy people by activating PDC (plasma cell like dendritic cells). In this way, the efficacy attribute of “right in the heart” can naturally make consumers happy to buy. In 2020, the sales of “Kirin imuse” beverage series increased by 8.4 times compared with the previous year.
source: Qilin official website
After the first taste of the sweetness, Kirin Beverage took advantage of the victory and launched “afternoon black tea milk tea plus” and “raw tea life plus immune assistance” on October 12, 2021, adding plasma lactic acid bacteria to meet consumers of different ages and different flavors with a variety of beverage categories.
source: Qilin official website
COVID-19 will not be able to stop for a while, and people will continue to export the demand for “enhancing immunity”, which provides a powerful boost for the expansion of the lactobacillus beverage market. The “anti epidemic” tug of war continues to extend, which is enough for consumers to cultivate a new habit of drinking lactic acid bacteria drinks stably during this period. When drinking lactic acid bacteria drinks has become a national common sense, the market foundation will be stable and firm.
2. Self elimination measures gave birth to the scene of drinking alone, and health awareness promoted the sugar controlled beer market
Since March 2020, the Japanese beer market has ushered in a long cold winter. Due to the release of epidemic prevention measures such as self elimination, the business of catering industries such as residential wine houses and restaurants has plummeted, which has also seriously frustrated the beer channel. In April, Japan declared a state of emergency. According to previous years, a round of “welcome party” and “golden week party” that should have generated considerable income were cancelled, followed by a sharp decline in the demand of the beer market. Last March alone, the beer market fell by about 13%, and in April it fell by 21%. Although the market recovered slightly in 2021, the overall scale still decreased by 14% compared with 19 years. However, in such a bad market environment, the new force of low sugar / 0 sugar beer has sprung up and handed over a bright report card in the depressed market.
Although the epidemic has led to a sharp decrease in the drinking scenes of going out to socialize, home drinking scenes such as drinking alone to please yourself, drinking decompression and enjoying your feelings with wine have accelerated the expansion and burst out new demand for wine. On the other hand, people’s sports opportunities have been sharply reduced due to long-term home life, resulting in a significant increase in their concern for “weight loss” and “weight management”. Therefore, low sugar / 0 sugar beer with mellow taste and full sense of health has become a new favorite of consumers. Although the sales volume of low sugar / 0 sugar beer decreased in September 2020 due to the “hoarding tide” before the alcohol tax adjustment, it has returned to a healthy growth trend since October.
source: ksp-pos (food SM)
As the leading brands in the market, Asahi, Kirin and Suntory have fought hard for many years and have taken turns to be the champion of the wine market. The low sugar / 0 sugar beer launched by the three giants showed strong performance during the epidemic period. Compared with 2019, Asahi’s “style free” increased by 10% year-on-year, Kirin’s “tanli green label” increased by 8%, and Suntory’s “golden wheat sugar 75% off” increased by 20%.
COVID-19 has exacerbated consumers’ thirst for health products. Addictions such as tobacco and alcohol have always been an existence that people love and hate. How to remove its “bad and harmful” label and pull it into a healthy team must be one of the correct trends in the future.
3. The health department chocolate has successfully made a circle, and the large bag design is favored
Chocolate with mellow taste and silky texture has always been a typical representative of comfort snacks. In the extraordinary period of the epidemic, people urgently need to find an effective magic weapon that can release pressure and relieve panic. As residents’ actions are gradually tightened, the opportunities to go out for “fun” are greatly reduced. In a small room, tasting chocolate has become the most cost-effective decompression artifact. The traditional chocolate with high sugar and high fat discourages consumers who are gradually awakening their health awareness. Health chocolate has become a great choice to have the best of both worlds.
The market trend of health chocolate in recent two years, excluding the sales pressure on health chocolate products caused by the increase of consumption tax in September of 20 years, the sales volume increased year-on-year from August to February of this year. After March 21, although the sales volume fluctuated greatly based on different months, the sales volume of health chocolate still far exceeded that of other types of chocolate. It seems to have become a school of its own and become another new category in the candy market.
source: ksp-pos (food SM)
Among them, “high cocoa” products have become the mainstream trend of healthy chocolate market with 70% share, and the remaining 30% are divided by chocolate products with other functions such as “improving sleep quality”, “improving cold hands and feet”, “low sugar”. With the continuous refinement of people’s health needs, various new efficacy health chocolates emerge one after another.
From the perspective of brand share, Meiji is the strongest king in the health chocolate market, with a market share of 50%. Its “oligo smart” chocolate uses oligofructose to replace some granulated sugar, so that the products can achieve the purpose of sugar control while ensuring the quality, so as to win the hearts of a large number of consumers. The sales have increased significantly since August 2020.
On the other hand, the large bag design launched by Meiji is also one of the major highlights for “oligo smart” to expand the market and distinguish it from similar chocolates. It is understood that the sales of “oligo smart” large bags account for 37% of the total sales, which probably depends on the habit of “hoarding” formed by consumers in their long-term home life during the epidemic. In addition, a large amount of packaging can also give consumers a cheap and affordable subjective impression, and help consumers cultivate their taste bud loyalty to the brand through long-term consumption of products.
In addition, the market performance of locabo nuts choco products launched by den VI is also very bright. The new combination of nuts and sugar free chocolate has stimulated consumers’ strong interest and is expected to become the next C of healthy chocolate.
Chocolate has always played an important role in the snack market. Since the birth of chocolate, countless people in the world have been crazy about it. It is precisely because of this strong love that chocolate bears the great expectations of the world that it is far more than other candy categories. Especially with the escalating consumer demand, people’s standards for chocolate have become more and more stringent. When diversified flavor and high quality have gradually become the basic threshold of the chocolate industry, the strategy of mining new selling points of chocolate from “health efficacy” and giving new momentum to products has achieved remarkable results based on the current market response. It is not difficult to believe that in the future, chocolate and even the whole candy industry will still carry out more dimensional product iterations towards the big theme of “health”.
4. The attention of protein products has remained high for a long time, and new products have emerged to further stir up the market
In the health food market, protein products should be the absolute ace. Protein is widely known as one of the essential nutrients to maintain good health. Therefore, when the products focusing on “protein supplement” are introduced to the market, the brand can immediately gain the trust of consumers and quickly circle the market territory of relevant products without spending a lot of education costs.
In the early stage, a large number of protein products mainly targeted fitness people, with relatively simple and broad functional claims and single form and flavor. With the rapid growth of protein brands, the fierce competitive game will dye the market into a red sea. In order to get out of the “trapped animal circle”, various brands began to refine their needs, so as to launch protein products with different effects such as “slimming”, “shaping”, “increasing muscle” and “increasing endurance”, expand the audience from fitness lovers to athletes and the general public, and greatly expand the market.
If the market of protein products has been increasing steadily in recent years, the attack of COVID-19 is just like a can of combustion improver, speeding up the expansion of the market. According to Fuji economic data, Japan’s protein product market reached 108.8 billion yen in 2020, a year-on-year increase of 10.5% over 19 years. On the one hand, due to the reduced frequency of going out and other reasons, the sales of lightweight and convenient products such as protein jelly and protein stick decreased. On the contrary, the demand for protein powder suitable for home scenes increased significantly.
Among the main players in the protein market, Meiji once again led the crowd with its strong strength. Its “Savas milk protein” series has launched more than 14 products since its listing in 2013, gaining nearly 50% of the market share. 21 years later, although the absolute position of “Savas milk protein” was challenged, and its market share once shrunk to 43.3% in July, its strength can not be underestimated. In particular, Savas milk protein 0 series of fat drinks, this product is particularly good to dispel the doubts of consumers who are eager to supplement protein and worry about excessive fat intake, so as to harvest a large number of loyal fans.
source: Meiji official website
As the dark horse player most qualified to challenge the dominance of “Savas milk protein”, in brand is a protein series food jointly created by Senyong dairy and Senyong fruit under Senyong group. The products give consumers a customized and exclusive experience with the characteristics of novel packaging, multiple flavors and different protein contents, So as to quickly pull its market growth curve.
Source: Senyong official website
As a veteran in the health product market, protein will continue to shine and heat in the future with its solid mass foundation and irreplaceable efficacy attributes. However, the favorable environment of the protein market does not mean that middle brands can easily “win”. At a time when the leading enterprises have taken the initiative in the market, if cutting-edge brands think of a new circle, they can only redefine a new generation of protein products through new scenes and new needs, so as to open up a new track and realize overtaking in corners.
With the release of the outline of “healthy China 2030”, the state has upgraded “healthy China” into a national strategy, and favorable policies have built a broad development platform for the big health industry. According to AI media data, affected by the epidemic, people are more willing to invest in their own health. Nearly 30% of the respondents’ average monthly consumption expenditure on functional health food is between 300-500 yuan, and 38% of the respondents said that the expenditure related to health products has increased. The market scale of China’s functional health food industry will reach 270.8 billion yuan in 2021 and is expected to exceed 300 billion yuan in 2023. Facing the broad market, how should China’s health food enterprises grasp the development trend, identify the opportunity points and stand out from the market torrent with serious product homogenization?
As an advanced representative of Asian food industry, Japan’s health market development trend is of great reference significance to relevant enterprises in China. This inventory of Japan’s health food market in 2021 can’t help lamenting the deep penetration and great impact of the epidemic effect on the industry. The epidemic is also like a touchstone. The strong track in the field of health food gradually appears in the process of continuous grinding and experience, and a number of powerful dark horses have been killed.
Looking at these popular products, although the concept, category, form, and even flavor, efficacy and packaging are diverse and have different attitudes. However, they all have a set of underlying logic that can accurately capture the real needs of consumers and effectively push through the old and bring forth the new based on needs. At the same time, taking the scene as the starting point to enable products, so as to broaden the scope of product definition and give birth to new categories, which is also one of the magic weapons for brands to win out of the circle.
The prosperous age of China’s health food market is coming. Let’s look forward to the arrival of the king!
 Health food market survey (2021) https://www.yano.co.jp/press-release/show/press_id/2643  Investigation on the life impact of the new model in May 2021 (Health Series) https://www.cross-m.co.jp/report/health/20210607corona/  Investigation on the impact of new-type food on life in July 2021 (food and Life Series) https://www.cross-m.co.jp/report/health/20210810corona/  H ・ B フズののののののののとととととととセセててののののののののの123 https://www.fuji-keizai.co.jp/file.html?dir=press&file=21042.pdf&nocache
Author: Ma Baiguo; Source: FDL digitalism (ID: foodatalink), reprint has been authorized. Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);
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