Gateway to the East-Asian Dinner Table

FOODEX JAPAN is the largest food and beverage trade show in Asia. Since 1976, it has been providing the opportunity for exhibitors to promote their products to the expanding Asian markets.

In 2012, FOODEX JAPAN had almost 74,000 visitors pass through the gates over four days. Over ten per cent of visitors were from overseas, and exhibitors came from 73 countries and regions. It is held at Makuhari Messe, a facility with a total of 54,000 square meters of exhibition space, located close to Tokyo and Narita Airport.

The event presents Australian companies will the opportunity to exhibit to buyers from not only Japan, but from wider Asia, and to access the Japanese distribution system.

A gathering of Asian buyers

FOODEX JAPAN attracts the importers critical in introducing products to various retailers, stores and restaurant chefs in Japan. But, as the largest show of its type in Asia, buyers from Korea, Taiwan, China and other growing Asian countries gather. In fact, over 10,000 buyers in total attended in 2012. East-Asian countries tend to follow the Japanese food movement, and if companies and products can make it into the Japanese market, this may also become a gateway to the Asian food market. It is an excellent and effective opportunity for Australian companies to promote their products to expanding Asian markets.

Japanese distribution system

The Japanese distribution system has been a challenge for Australian companies to penetrate in years gone by, yet it is the most important factor to the Japanese food industry. However, deregulation, the globalisation of Japanese consumer preferences and initiatives such as FOODEX JAPAN have contributed towards breaking down those barriers to entry for Australian exporters. Foreign companies that have shied away from Japan in the past due to the complex distribution system may well benefit in revisiting the opportunities in Japan.

Buyers support program

FOODEX JAPAN Secretariat provides a number of programs, free of charge, to expand business opportunities and assist exhibitors to conduct fruitful discussions with buyers.

The Importer Club provides import know-how and language support, eliminating the excuse from a buyer that they ‘don’t know how to import’. Exhibitors with Japanese buyers at their booth interested in their products can make effective use of this support service to assist the buyer with the importing procedure, no matter the volume of trade.

The Export Wine! One Pallet! program supports that don’t have an importer in Japan to meet Japanese importers. It is set up to increase business negotiations between wine exhibitors and buyers from the food service industry, such as individually run restaurants and izakaya (Japanese-style pubs) that have little contact with overseas wineries, have a lack of importing experience and only require a small order size. Overseas wines not yet available in the Japanese market are showcased and Japanese buyers can visit and taste wine with the advice of Japanese wine professionals on site.

The Product Search Service arranges meetings between you and the decision-making buyers from Japan’s large retailers and distributors. Surveys of interested products are conducted in advance with Japanese buyers and importers. Along with pre-appointed meetings, buyers and importers can also visit the booth of the exhibitor for more information if a product meets their need. At FOODEX JAPAN 2012, more than 1500 business-match meetings were conducted with AEON, CGC, Saizeriya, Sundi, TFK, Tokyu Store, and more. Buyers and exhibitors discussed the possibility of sending their products to Japan.

Online library

FOODEX JAPAN TODAY is a section on the FOODEX JAPAN website that is updated monthly with the latest food trends and products in Japan. Even if you do not plan to participate in the next event, this is a useful source of information for Australian companies.

Interviews with decision-making personnel from distributors, importers and restaurants are also uploaded each month so that companies can understand what kinds of overseas products are generating interest, and what kind of information is needed for these buyers and the market.

Foodex Japan 2014

Exhibition Details

Exhibition Period: 4-7 March 2014.

Venue: Makuhari Messe, Chiba City, Japan

To learn more about how Australian exporters can take part in FOODEX JAPAN contact Shinka Management or visit


The application deadline for the FOODEX JAPAN 2014 food expo is 1 November 2013.


This article appeared in the Australian Industry Group’s Exporters Guide 2012 – 2013.

Ben Sparrow is a Director of Shinka Management Pty Ltd, which works in association with Japan Management Association Consultants (JMAC) to help Australian Industry increase productivity through Japanese lean consulting, lean six-sigma training and Japan lean study tours.