Total exports of Japan’s agricultural, forestry, and fisheries products and foods set a record high for the fourth consecutive year, reaching 750 billion yen in 2016, a 1% increase from the previous year. Exports rose for fruit and beef, which are known for their high quality. With the appreciation of the yen, Japan’s overall exports dropped by 7%, and this makes the fine performance by agricultural and fisheries products “made in Japan” stand out.
This information was revealed by government sources. The export category that showed a significant increase was fruit. Grape exports jumped by 50% to about 2.3 billion yen while strawberries rose by 35% to approximately 1.1 billion yen. Fruit has won over Asian middle- and high-income earners who seeking out Japanese fruit for its sweetness. Fruit House Yano (Yamanashi Prefecture), a grape grower that supplies luxury hotels located on the banks of Lake Kawaguchi, started to export its produce to Malaysia from fiscal 2015.
The washoku [Japanese cuisine] boom has boosted exports as well. Green tea exports rose by 14% to 11.6 billion yen while beef exports rose by 23% to 13.5 billion yen. Many inquiries are received from affluent people who like high-grade wagyu [Japanese beef], and exports to Hong Kong grew by 33%.
Rice exports, at 2.3 billion yen for the January–November period, have exceeded the historic high set in 2015. “With the spread of washoku, exports are increasing,” said a top-level executive at a major rice wholesaler. Driven by agricultural and livestock products, exports absorbed the sluggishness in fisheries products where there was poor catch in such seafood as scallops and bonito [katsuo]. At the current pace, however, it will be difficult to reach the government target of raising agricultural and fisheries product exports to 1 trillion yen in 2019. The Abe administration was planning to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.