The following are a number of observations based on my experience and meetings at the thousands of booths and displays at Food Ex, the worldÕs largest food, hotel and restaurant show held each year in Tokyo.  The report is divided into a number of sections that will often tie into pictures on IÕve been attending this show with few exceptions over the past 15 years and will note differences in marketing trends, chef usage and what different countries focus on in marketing fruit. Although mostly fruit related, there are a number of other areas IÕll briefly touch on.  The first part of the report is based on observations at the equipment and foodservice part of the show. Following that are the notes that relate to uploaded photos. The photos are divided into 3 sections, new featured products chosen by the show organizers, photos of interesting products from various countries and photos of numerous brochures featuring fresh and value added products from around the world.  Although the focus is Japan, much of what is done here by developing countries has potential in the Hawaii niche market.


Please let me know if you have specific questions.






Food safety issues are of growing concern in Japan based on bird flu and BSE being found in the U.S.  In the food service sector, small vacuum -packing machines are being routinely used in hotels and large restaurants even when the required storage time is overnight.


HACCP awareness and certification are increasingly moving from large operations into small restaurants. There is also a movement to inform the public on HACCP in Japan.


Color-coding is increasing in Asia and Europe. This includes not only cutting boards but knife handles, disposable gloves, towels, and serving & preparation dishes. Large kitchens may be divided into color-coded zones to prevent cross contamination.


Asian hotels and larger restaurants are increasing the use of small tabletop grills for yakitori type dishes where the customer cooks part of their own meals.


In some locations in Japan, cooks and kitchen staff are required to wear full headgear with side flaps, masks and gloves.


The organic and natural food market is increasing world wide with a plethora of new organizations in Japan promoting eating only organic foods. Over time, our visitors to Hawaii from Japan will come to expect organic choices.


Hotel and restaurants are using small rice presses for sushi, musubi, onigiri and maki-sushi.


The number of available salts both for food service and consumer use is increasing tremendously. The average grocery has 150 to 300 salts from various parts around Japan as well as from other exotic locations. Flavored salts including plum, yuzu, matcha, orange are actively being marketed. Colored unflavored salts are also available as area wide choice of coarseness.


Hotels are using small bubble machines in lobby displays. In-room foot massagers are becoming more popular.


Unusual shaped and colored dishes and flatware are being used it hotel restaurants.

Shapes are non traditional with a wide ranged of ultra modern designs. There were very few traditional looking tableware or flatware designs on display even by large companies like Noritake. There was a number of colored porcelains and glass tableware on display including those infused with gold leaf.


Small soft ice cream machines are increasing in popularity judging from previous years at the show. The machines use prepackaged mixes with many unusual flavors, spices and varietal chocolates.


European chefs are starting to use more Asian spices and flavors in their culinary creations. These include yuzu kosho (yuzu and pepper), kabosu citrus, daidai citrus, suidachi citrus, sansho 7-spice (shichimi tongarashi) and wasabi.  This is the first time IÕve seen the Europeans at the show feature food products incorporating Asian spices.


A wife variety of vinegars were also on display including black garlic vinegar (not balsamic). The average grocery in Japan carries a few dozen types of vinegar.


Many elaborate espresso and in-room coffee machines were on display as well as coffees from all growing regions. The machines, although geared for upscale in-room applications, consisted of mostly cosmetic changes.


Mixes of gelato pre-gel with tropical fruit flavors were featured by many European companies as well as Japan importers.


The glut of dragon fruit in the international marketplace was evident in many displays with white fleshed dragon fruit pieces being incorporated into products like gelato, ice cream, smoothie mixes and various drinks both with and without alcohol.


There is a trend for hotel and restaurant staff to receive training on tiny portable defibrillators that are kept on site at a growing number of restaurants.


I also attended a briefing expressing concern with the growing number of Japanese children suffering from wheat allergies. There are groups bringing this to public and promoting traditional foods.


The marketing of beef in Japan by many countries increased tremendously due to the tenuous situation of the US beef being sold and the scare of BSE.


Photo Section 1

(Featured Products)


The following notes relate to photos at:

The show organizers and country representatives choose the products in this section to be featured in the main hall of the exhibition.



Avocado oil from primarily South Africa is being sold in Japan as well as Europe.

ItÕs of growing interest both in Asian and European Culinary circles.


Marula fruit (Sclerocarya birrea) is being touted in South Africa for use in both edible and skin oil. Fruit pulp and nuts from the fruit are also being sold and marketed in Japan.



In addition to its jams and jellies from temperate fruit crops, the country is also marketing its roasted coffee.



IndiaÕs featured products include different textured honeys and high quality mango puree.



Freeze-dried durian and other tropical fruit is a fast growing market in Japan with most of the fruit coming from Thailand


A new naturally pink salt has been added to the shelves of many markets in Japan. ItÕs also available in foodservice sizes and pared with different types of grilled fish. Many chefs will use different salts with different types of fish or meats.


Cheese stuffed in baby squash may not be traditional Japanese cuisine but it became so popular that it moved from foodservice into consumer markets.


Prepackaged cake slices are not knew in Japan but using tropical fruit in them is.


Jams with whole fruit pieces are more popular than ever.  There are a number of stores in trendy areas that cook and bottle fruit based jam to order while customers wait.


High-end citrus juice is being bottled and packed as gifts. Not just orange juice but customers have a choice of many cultivars. Information included describes the fresh fruit and farm where itÕs grown.



Korea always has a very large display at Foodex along with thousands of products, many of which compete with Japanese produced ones. Korea also promotes its traditional teas and numerous fruit based products.


New Zealand

Black currents are being actively marketed in Japan as a major NZ crop as well as lamb and other meats.



Figs have always been a mainstay of the countries export programs but recent competition from Iran and other producing regions forced them into new packaging schemes. They have also increased the presence of their other products like olive oil, chestnuts and dried fruit.


Photo Section 2

(Displays from FoodEx 2007)

Coming Soon



The Ņeat more fruitÓ sign pretty much sums up most of the FoodEx focus this year. Every country that had a display had some type of value added fruit based product. Those with agreements with Japan also displayed fresh fruit products. Large Japanese multinationals focused on a wide variety of fruit products processed locally and in the country of origin.



This photo shows a small section of the exhibition hall. The show was held in JapanÕs two largest venues, Makuhari Meese and Tokyo Big Site. The total space was roughly the equivalent of 16 football fields.



The folks down under were promoting non-alcoholic fruit beverages as cordials. I found the taste somewhat insipid. Note the Hula titled one although I was told the pineapple in it comes from Taiwan.




Poha from Chile, in baskets ready for grocery stores, was on display at the booth of a Japanese company, in the American section as they also represent Driscolls.


Columbia1 -4

ColumbiaÕs Tropical Maria brand has been very popular at the past shows. Juices from exotic fruit such as soursop, Surinam cherry and lulo are served to booth visitors. This year there was an increased focus on frozen fruit in sections and purees for foodservice industry.

Lulo juice is a fast growing sector in the Japanese market.



Monkey bananas are sold in most Japanese grocery stores along with Cavendish from sometimes as many as 4 different countries.



Fruit based wines and sparkling wines from Germany were also well received.

The fruit was organically grown.



Fruit sections packaged in heavy syrup for consumer and food service markets.



Lion Coffee gave away samples of 100% Kona but their display was mostly 10% blends.


Papaya 1Š4

The Hawaiian papaya group had a display featuring Big Island grown fruit from the trading arm of Mitsubishi. The booth, located in the US section was very popular with visitors sampling our fruit, as often, top quality papaya will sell for more than $10. in Japan.



A chef from a Tokyo Indian restaurant gave out samples of a high quality mango nectar. I sampled mango juice from a number of Indian companies as well as the Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and other countries. This was by far the best.



An officially sanctioned exporter from the Spice Board of India.



Two varieties of mango and more fruit juices.


India 4

Other mangos and food service packaging of mango puree on display.


India 5

The manager of the Karnataka State agriculture group with displays on products grown in that area of Southern India.


India 6

The Cashew Export Promotion Council gave away samples of the nuts in various forms.

They also had cashew juice and butter on display.



The dried figs from Iran are excellent and marketed all over Japan. They are much smaller and sweeter than black mission figs being offered in the US section. Small bags of the figs can be found in small local markets and gourmet shops around Japan.



Other dried fruit, raisins and pomegranates were also on display with samples offered.

Iranian fruit was available for sampling at both the countries booth as well as the Japanese importers booth. Recipes in English and Japanese were also handed out as well as being used in the marketing collateral to stores.



Thai dried fruit and mango juice offered at one of the Japanese booths.



Durian chips were offered in a variety of flavors and spices. The chips are produced in Thailand for the Japanese company.



Kumquat jam, jelly, desserts, yoghurt as well as fresh fruit on display from the Yamagata prefecture agriculture-marketing group. In Japan, in addition to the national coop called JA, each prefecture has its own Ag promotion and marketing group.



Frozen fruit sorbet frozen in the fruit skin and packed for foodservice sales.



Daidai (orange cultivar) Citrus salad dressing.



Fruit based puddings, cakes and juices packed in individual servings for both consumer sales and foodservice use.



Caned tropical fruit and juice from Thailand at the Japanese importers booth.



A display of individual jello type fruit products with and without pieces of fruit were on display.



Tropical fruit juice, sauce and syrups are packed for food service and consumers in Japan.

Importation is from Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan.



Mango jam produced in Japan from Indian pulp.


Japan9, b & c

Acai fruit drinks, vitamins and products produced by a Japanese company from Brazilian fruit. The company also promotes acerola products and other fruit touted as health supplements.


Japan salt 1-2

The selection of salt in Japan is immense with the average grocery store carrying between 30 and 100 varieties. New products released in April 07 will include citrus flavored salts.



Korean teas based on citrus additives are very popular as well as being traditional. The

Asian citrus used, like yuzu, is also used as a jam and mixed in yoghurts.



Creative uses of matsutake mushrooms, in Korea, are growing in popularity too.

Juice, honey, health supplements, and candy are just a few.



Guava juice, puree and ketchup are packaged for both consumers and food service.



Tropical fruit based jello and candy is packed in a variety of sizes. Tropical fruit based candy is also popular.


Mexico 1-3

Currently 98% of the avocados in Japan are Mexican Hass. What is relatively new is the marketing of frozen halves, chunks for salads and processed dips.

Mexico and the importers actively promote the healthy attributes of the avocados.



PeruÕs booth featured a timetable for when fresh fruit was available.



Frozen dragon fruit, tamarillo (tree tomato) and other fruit was also being promoted.



In the JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) South American products were featured including Noni Juice.


Philippines 1 (pi1)

An extensive Philippine exhibit included fresh fruit, juices, dried fruit, powdered fruit mixes, pulp and puree. The products are packed for both consumers and foodservice.



Frozen fruit from Serbia and Croatia has been popular in Japan from the past few years.

Mostly cultivated, some fruit is also sold as harvested in the wild, which is very popular.



Teas made from Soursop and other fruit is packaged as a gift set



Dried jackfruit, papaya, bananas and a variety of other fruit were introduced for the first time.



Taiwan as started to actively market a number of types of bananas in Japan as an alternative to the current South American and Philippine imports. The marketing of different cultivars, side by side in groceries is not new in Japan. Large groceries will now offer 7 or 8 types of bananas.



Tea and other products from roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) were also offered.



New Pineapples and pineapple plants are also being offered.



Farms as well as agriculture commodity groups market fresh and processed fruit from within the Taiwan booth.



Canned fruit and coconut milk. The same brand is often found in Hawaii.



Fresh mango, processed fresh coconut and papaya were offered in a number of Thai booths.


Thailand3, 8

Dried fruit gifts and canned fruits were also on display.  IÕve noticed over the past 10- years that presence at the show of dried fruit has increased tremendously. IÕve also noticed that this yearÕs displays of dried and dehydrated fruit were not as elaborate is in the past. Packaging does not seem to be as important as it once was as often, Japanese companies will repack products, as gifts, no matter how fancy the supplied packaging is.



Fresh mango and mangosteen being prepared for sampling at the show.



Thai pineapple had a larger presence than previous years.



Thai fruit was also on display at many of the Japanese manufacturers and importers.



Hot sauces with fruit, especially pineapple seemed popular. I thought the taste was marginal.



Frozen fruit sections and puree were featured for foodservice.


US1, 2

The Japanese company Fraise, which represents Driscolls in Japan, was located in the Japanese section. In addition to US fruit, they also marketed Chilean fruit that may or may not be in competition with other US grown items.


US Maui1

This is in the US section as opposed to the Hawaii section as the company Maui Beverages

Has nothing to do with Maui. All of their collateral features Maui and Maui images, as youÕll see in the brochure section of this report, but the company is owned by Californians and the products produced there. Nothing comes from Maui.




Photo Section 3

(Brochures and Products from FoodEx 2007)



The marula fruit and Avocado oil from Africa



The country has always promoted its fruit but not to this extent with the more exotic offerings.  This is the first time IÕve seen Cupuacu and Cacao offered as a whole fruit.

Acai and soursop being processed and offered in a number of products was to be expected.

I was also surprised that Brazilian guava ketchup was not as popular as it was 2 years ago.



ChinaÕs offerings included many of the usual and standard processed products one might expect. I did like this lychee ad. Chinese as well as Thai, Mexican and Taiwan lychee is sold fresh and frozen in Japan.



The Tropical Maria Company continues to actively market exotic fruit products in Japan. This includes fresh fruit, juices packed for consumers and foodservice and a host of other

Unusual products. Lulo is one of the fastest growing segments of the juice market.



Feeling the pinch of increased competition on bananas from other Asian and South American countries as well as increased banana tariffs from the EU, Ecuador as stepped up its promotion on other tropical fruit including passion fruit. They are also started to actively promote hearts of palm.



This was the largest Egyptian booth IÕve seen yet. Their juices seemed popular, as did the pumpkin based products.



Fruit products from the sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides, have been at the show a few years with limited success. The juice is very good. The farmers union has started marketing healthcare products as well as the juice and jellies.



Fewer exhibits than in previous years, Germany has been actively promoting their sparkling fruit wines.



The Karnataka Ag coop as well as others in India had representatives to assist companies with their marketing in Japan as well as promote states like Karnataka.



A few of the Indian mango varieties being offered to Japanese Importers.



The Iranian figs and pomegranates have long been promoted in Japan. This year, as with the Indian mangos, varietal differences are also made apparent as well as numbers recipe giveaways.



Israel had a larger booth than in previous years, actively promoting pomegranate wine.



Coffee from dandelion may not sound normal but it did taste like coffee and much better than some instant and canned coffees IÕve had in Japan.



Packaged fruit pieces with yoghurt and cream for desserts.


Japan 11-12

Ice cream with various fruits.



Frozen fruit as well as fruit sorbet packaged for foodservice individually wrapped.


Japan 14

Fruit flavored jello type desserts


Japan 15

Pumpkin desserts and fruit filed cakes



Cover of Japan Airlines import group. Fresh mango, starfruit and berries are among the offerings.


Japan 2-4

Durian chips are making inroads into major groceries rather than just specialty stores.



Acai fruit being touted for its antioxidants is sold as a juice. Japanese companies import much of the Brazilian crop.



More of the salts being offered by a company, including fruit flavored salt.



Fruit sherbet packed in the fruit from which it came packed for foodservice in individual servings.



Fruit ice desserts, packed for foodservice in individual servings.



Mr. Tanabe moved from Japan to Ecuador because of his love of bananas and now markets them in Japan.



Juice, tea and honey made from the matsutake mushroom. The juice was excellent.



Traditional Korean tea with fruit additives. The jelly like processed fruit is like a thin marmalade and also used as such.



The brochure from Maui Beverage Company has nothing to do with Maui!

It is an example of companies taking advantage of HawaiiÕs reputation for marketing purposes.



Mexican brochures so some of the wide variety of fruit being marketed by the country.



Sweet peppers in light syrup.



PeruÕs brochures this were much more elaborate than in the past.

It is also the first time theyÕve marketed Lucama and yacon.



The Philippines brochures show a number of companies with fruit products both for consumers and foodservice. This year they also offered a choice of cuts for dried bananas and mango. High-end fruit wines made from unusual fruit like duhat, bignay and soursop were also offered.




Fresh frozen fruit



Basil seed was being offered as a dietary supplement.



Dehydrated jackfruit was not as flavorful as what we produce in Kona



Dehydrated Woodapple (Feronia limonia) powder for drink mixes.



Kitul syrup from palm fruit was excellent.



Candied kumquat



Homestay and Agtourism guidebook for visiting Taiwan.



The fruit and brochures from Taiwan are very high quality and popular in the Japanese market place. Taiwan also offers choices of cuts and packaging for foodservice as well as varietal choices.



Thailand offers fresh and freassh frozen fruit as well as canned and dried. They also had a number of recipes with fresh ŅexoticÓ fruit on display.



Turkey has successfully promoted its figs for a number of years in Japan.



US fruit and many products are overshadowed by the meat industry displays but

continue to be represented in Japan. The Hawaii papaya display was very popular and one of the most active US booths.



Vietnams contribution to the show consisted of high quality dried fruit and fruit products. They were not marketing fresh fruit yet but I suspect itÕs just a matter of red tape before enter the Japanese fresh produce market.