• Feature

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is Creating a Certification System for Vegetarian and Vegan

  • delicious Japan
  • May 2022
  • Vol. 14

These days, vegetarian and vegan are a global food trend. They are spreading as a way to address increased interest in food safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and as one solution to the climate crisis, particularly among the young. According to the survey company IMARC Group, the global market for vegetarian and vegan foods reached UD17 billion in value in 2020, and it is forecast to grow at a rate of 11.4% between 2021 and 2026.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is creating a certification system for bars and restaurants which serve vegetarian and vegan foods, and for vegetarian and vegan processed foods. Processed foods etc. which satisfy the criteria are permitted to display the JAS Mark. The system will meet demand from foreign tourists, looking forward to the post-Covid era. The Ministry wants to introduce the system by as early as this summer.

The bill will set two types of certification criteria, for processed foods and for bars and restaurants. Both types check that ingredients are not of animal origin, and that if the same equipment and utensils are also used with ingredients of animal origin, they are thoroughly cleaned to prevent crossover. One condition for bars and restaurants is that they must serve at least one main dish menu item for vegans or vegetarians. For processed foods, there is content in line with international standards, with exporting in mind.

Taito Ward, famous for Asakusa, the famous tourist area, was quick to earn recognition as a Muslim-friendly city, with many Halal-compliant shops. Since fiscal 2021, it has been strengthening its environment for accepting foreigners by supporting food diversity, and by covering vegetarian, vegan, and other diets as well as Muslims. Taito Ward’s Tourism Department created its Food Diversity Support Map (digital edition) in April this year, saying “we want to help so that all travelers visiting Taito Ward can eat, drink, and enjoy tourism with peace of mind”. Other local authorities are following suit, in what appears to be an accelerating trends.

The new “Vegetarian and Vegan JAS” will lead the way as the national-standard vegetarian and vegan certification mark. As well as bringing the overdue development of Japan’s vegetarian and vegan environment, this JAS standard is expected to serve as a selling point when Japanese agricultural produce and foods are exported.