Export Opportunities for Australia’s Herbs and Spices in Japan
Spices and herbs are used for medicinal purposes as well as in food preparation. In recent years, the popularity of spices and herbs has increased across the world. In Australia for instance, the consumption of herbs and spices rose sharply in the decade leading to 2003 due to greater awareness of health impacts of food consumption. This is said to have led in the increased consumption of herbs and skills, which made the period be associated with a culinary revolution. The use of herbs and spices in Australia has continued to grow to include even export markets. Japan thus forms one of the most viable target markets not only due to availability of consumers but also due to other factors. Japan is a major consumer of spices and herbs, but also imports most of the herbs and spices consumed in the country. In addition to this, the purchase patterns for spices and herbs also vary across the country.
The consumption of herbs and spices in Japan was formerly concentrated on traditional spices such as wahabi and mustard. In the recent years however, the diversity in the types of spices available in the Japanese markets has been experienced. This is attributed to the many foreigners that visit Japan and to the improved knowledge in culinary skills. The Japanese herbs market is segmented into household herbs, industrial use and processing. The spices for house hold uses are more in comparison to the other spice categories.
There are several advantages associated with trading in spices. For instances, trade in spices is not susceptible to influences such as climate, infrastructure quality and availability of human capital. While this is good for the country, it is also potentially threatening since the developing countries could also invest in the spices trade and gain a lot of revenue. The developing country however has only a limited market share in the spices trade (AusAID, 2006).
In the developed countries, trade in raw and unprocessed commodities is encouraged through reduction and/ or elimination of tariffs on the same. Japan’s spice and herbs market has competition among many players. However, there is still a chance for success since most of the players deal with only a few lines of spices. As a matter of fact, the spice and herbs market can be said to be monopolized by the players in different fields. This implies that despite the conditions of the market, there is still room for the export of spices and herbs.
The major challenge in the spice and herb market is market access. The tariffs in the spice trade make it difficult to access the market. Just like in other countries, Japan also has some of the tariff limitations. For instance, disguised tariffs are imposed on packed and containerized spices while raw spices and herbs are not charged much. The tariffs are imposed differently resulting in different challenges across countries.
A second challenge that faces herbs and spice importers in Japan is that of import procedures. The importers have to comply with certain laws for most of the spices. However, some of the spices such as turmeric and cumin are not subject to those laws (JETRO, 2011). Importers want sustainability in trade. This can be achieved in the Japanese spice and herbs market. The market is growing and is expected to continue growing more and more hence is sustainable (Markets and Markets, 2013).
AusAID (2006). Trade Information Brief: Spices, Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies
Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) (2011). Guidebook for Export to Japan: Spices and Herbs, Development Cooperation Division Trade and Economic Cooperation Department, March
Markets and Markets (2013). Global Spices Market by Type, Applications and Geography: trends and Forecasts (2011-2016), Report Code: FB 1202.
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