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FOODEX 2009 CELEBRATES THE GROWTH OF THE ITALIAN FOOD & DRINK BUSINESS
Italian agricultural and food products are becoming ever more popular on the Japanese market. To give some examples: in 2008, 5.5% of Italy’s total world exports of pasta went to Japan, yet another increase on the previous year’s quota. As far as olive oil is concerned, Italian ascendancy in the Land of the Rising Sun has never been under dispute: at present Italian producers provide 55% of Japan’s extra-virgin olive oil. Japanese consumption of oil, virtually non-existent 30 years ago, exploded during the 1990’s and now stands at about 30,000 tons annually. Wine has also witnessed a slight increase in demand on the Japanese market, with an export value of 86.8 million Euros in the first ten months of the year. So, there are many positive indicators as we look forward to the 2009 edition of the Foodex fair, to be staged at the Nippon Convention Centre in Tokyo, from March 3rd-6th.
The Japanese fair, now in its 33rd year, is an ideal shop-window for the best of Italy’s agricultural food products. It is considered to be the most important trade fair for the sector in Asia, regarded by specialist operators as only inferior to two others on the world stage: the Anuga fair in Cologne, and the Sial in Paris. The number of visitors to the Tokyo fair is now consistently just under 100,000 (in 2008, there were 96,328). Most of these were Japanese, but there were also many people from overseas countries, such as Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Thailand. This demonstrates once again the international character of the fair, which is further confirmed by the number of foreign exhibitors, accounting for 1,602 out of 2,412 at last year’s event.
In line with previous practice, the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) has once again organized a joint participation for Italian companies at Foodex 2009. Historically, Italy has always constituted the most important foreign presence at the Fair, with the greatest number of exhibitors. Most of the businesses attending the fair are small enterprises with less than ten employees, specializing in niche products. They represent all the traditions of Italian food and wine, and come, whether in large or small deputations, from practically all the regions of the country. Wine, olive oil, pasta, preserved vegetables, sweets and coffee are among the most frequently displayed products.
There is enormous future potential for the sale of agricultural and food products in Japan, and indeed in Asia in general. At the moment, the entire continent of Asia only accounts for a very low share (5%) of Italy’s global food and drink exports. However, Japan is already the uncontested leader amongst the four principal Asian importers (China, South Korea, Japan and India), with a share of about 2.5%.