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Although the Japanese organic food market is still widely regarded as an emerging segment, the rise in the health and wellness trend in recent years has given a boost to the segment, which was valued at around 1, 8 billion US dollars in 2020.

This increase has been accompanied by increased interest from various international companies to enter the Japanese organic market, and a corresponding increase in organic food imports – this in turn has prompted the local government to implement implementing stricter regulations to govern the entry of these products, as reflected in a recent announcement by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

All companies that import organic food products from abroad must now appoint a responsible person with the necessary knowledge, skills and training to be in charge of the reception, storage and packaging of organic products.

“There are different areas of post-processing management of organic products [including] transport, classification, preparation, packaging, storage and more [that need the oversight of a trained person] to make sure these stay organic,”MAFF said via an official announcement notice.

“These personnel must have completed the necessary courses related to the reception, storage and packaging of imported items in workshops specified by the organic certification body, and will be solely responsible [for these organic-related matters].”

In addition, MAFF has also specified sizing parameters for the local organic certification label that must be affixed to all organic products in Japan, namely Japanese Organic Agricultural Standards (JAS).

“The label height should be 5mm or more, and the length should be twice as long as the height,”indicated the specification document.

“Additionally, the wording ‘JAS’ must be included [at the specified sizing] depending on label size and wording 認証機関名(Certificate Authority) must be the same size as the JAS label.

“It is important to note that this label must be affixed in a prominent place on each container or package. [containing organic food products but] anything that may mislead consumers about the contents of the JAS with respect to the classification shall not be displayed. »

Organic awareness in Japan

The Japanese government has been a big supporter of the organic sector and has pushed for local demand growth, launching platforms such as the “Japanese Organic Supporters” targeting organic businesses to help increase awareness and demand.

However, studies have shown that Japanese consumer awareness of organic and organic certification remains low in the country despite growing demand – a 2021 Statista report showed that only 18.5% of Japanese people are aware of the Organic JAS logo and what it means.

A whopping 38.4% have already seen the logo, but ‘didn’t know the meaning’​, 9.7% believed that even food products without a logo could be organic if they were simply labeled as such, and 33.5% said they had no knowledge of the existence of this logo and the need for it. certification – probably one of the reasons the government is trying to include this logo on all organic food imports in the future.

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