• Global Kitchen

Global Kitchen: Series2

  • delicious Japan
  • December 2017

Please tell us about yourself and your duties at the New Zealand Embassy.
I started working at the embassy in 2009. Before that, I worked in the overseas trade department at a Japanese food manufacturer, and then at Mars Japan. At the embassy, my main duties are providing support for New Zealand companies expanding into the Japanese market, and business matching. I personally like wine, and I’m a certified wine sommelier.

What are the main products imported to Japan from New Zealand?
Food products are by far the largest category, accounting for about half of total imports. Dairy products, livestock products and fruits and vegetables boast huge import volumes. There is a wide range of imported food products.

What are the initiatives and difficulties encountered in creating a stable demand for New Zealand food products in Japan?
Supermarkets and restaurants are places where consumers encounter food products. We collaborate with supermarkets to hold New Zealand food fairs, and provide support for buffet fairs in restaurants and hotels that employ ingredients from New Zealand. Unfortunately, New Zealand foods are still not very well-known.

What is New Zealand cuisine like?
As New Zealand has a deep historic connection with Great Britain, you can see influences from British cuisine, in dishes like fish and chips and meat pies. On the other hand, there are many immigrants, so we have diverse foods and cuisines. Spanish tapas are popular nowadays, and sushi rolls are also really popular.

What are the features of New Zealand food products that you want to tell Japanese consumers?
New Zealand has an abundance of ingredients. Looking at the food fairs of other countries you can see that they focus on proposing ideas for prepared dishes, but at New Zealand’s fairs we promote our ingredients first and foremost. There are many kinds of New Zealand foods exported to Japan, so we can hold the fairs using our own ingredients.

How about New Zealand wines?
Although it is a small country, there are over 600 wineries in New Zealand. Among them, Sauvignon Blanc, a white wine, is synonymous with New Zealand wine.

How compatible is New Zealand wine with Japanese cuisine?
Sauvignon Blanc has a clean, dry taste, so it pairs well with Japanese cuisine. Our importers participate in promotional campaigns such as “By the Glass”, where they experiment collaborating not just with Western restaurants but also Japanese restaurants. Also, we are working with Japan Sommelier Association to hold internship programs at local wineries for young and talented Japanese sommeliers.

How popular is Japanese cuisine in New Zealand?
There are many immigrants in New Zealand, and the level of interest in foreign cultures is very high. Sushi rolls are popular with children, and the number of ramen shops is also on the rise.

Are there any Japanese companies penetrating the New Zealand market?
Many businesses invest in New Zealand, including major companies like Asahi Breweries, Suntory Holdings, Kirin Brewery Company, Itoham Foods, and Nippon Suisan Kaisha (Nissui). Free trade is a national policy of New Zealand, and we have signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with many countries. In many cases, the low barrier to exports from New Zealand makes for a smoother flow of trade, and many countries anticipate greater trade growth with New Zealand through FTAs.

Please tell us about the expected eff ects of the TPP when it enters into force, and the ways Japan and New Zealand make use of FTAs and EPAs.
New Zealand, as one of the countries that proposed the TPP, has positive expectations towards it and is actively working towards bringing into force the TPP11. New Zealand has FTAs with many countries and is a leading free-trade nation. I believe New Zealand has high hopes for FTAs including the TPP.

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