Global Sake Import and Export Market
2021 Update & Coronavirus Impact on Sake exports and imports
In May 2021, total export value dropped slightly to about 3.2 billion JPY, whereas total export volume increased to 3.2 million litre.
Over the last few months, low to mid-range Sake exports showed better growth compared to premium Sake : this is to be expected given the Coronavirus impact on customers budgets and profits.
Sakeportal expects the demand trend, before Coronavirus, for more premium Sake will resume in the near future.
Overall, the Sake export and import market is showing a revival and starting to grow post Coronavirus.
Looking at volume by area from January 2021 to May 2021 there has been steady growth in Asia, Europe and America; with East Asia showing the largest growth percentage. Western Europe has impressively bounced back and imported 8 times more Sake than last year. It shows how harsh the situation was and hope continues that Sake imports will continue to increase.
2020 Coronavirus Impact on Sake exports
The full impact has not been reflected yet but the total Sake shipments January to March 2020 was down about 18.4% on the previous year.
Global impact on importers has (of course) been massive with some importers in the USA losing 80% of their sales (JETRO). The full impact and data will be available middle of 2021.
Near future growth
With Japanese Sake makers making new innovative flavors, the upcoming Olympics (maybe) and the 156,000 restaurants serving Japanese food outside Japan in 2019, (compared to just 24,000 in 2006), when normal business resumes it is hoped there will be a renewed drive and interest in Sake.
Sakeportal foresees one of the biggest growth opportunities in the Sake RTD market.
Sake exports reached a record high for the tenth consecutive year on a value basis in 2019, at about 23.4 billion yen, representing 2.48 million 8.64L cases.
Although exports only account for 4.6% of the entire sales of Sake, this ratio is expected to grow as domestic sales are still shrinking.
The global market is anticipated to register a CAGR between 4.7%- 12.5% (depending on the forecast company).
The North American market remains the largest importer of Sake followed by Europe and Asia Pacific.
Within Europe, France is the stand out with imports of Japanese Sake currently at record levels: sales reached $2.6 million in 2019- more than four times the figure 10 years previously.
However the type of Sake is imported is not similar:
Within the more Sake sophisticated Asia Pacific market there is a relatively bigger demand for higher priced Sake and smaller brewery Sake compared to the North American market.
The Sake market is still globally dominated by the well-known mass-manufactured brands but as consumers are becoming globally more Sake sophisticated they are expected to follow the Asia Pacific market and seek out smaller artisan brands: in trend with overall alcohol beverage market. Similarly, at present, around 70%–80% of the Sake produced is non-premium or low priced Futsushu; growth is expected to occur relatively more in the premium range (Ginjo and Daiginjo): again, in line with the overall alcohol beverage market.
The Global Sake Import and Export market
Sake, also called nihonshu, is rapidly going global and the number of Sake drinkers is rising sharply around the world. The Global Sake export market is showing great growth: the value of Japan’s annual Sake exports doubled over the past five years to a record-high 22.2 billion yen ($200 million) in 2018 with Japan’s tax agency data indicating a 21% rise in the global Sake exports year on year. The USA is the top export market with total Sake imports worth $45 million in 2016 following America are the Asian countries of Hong Kong, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and the European countries headed by the UK and France. Recent Trade Agreements with the EU and the CPTTP Agreement covering most of Asia and Canada will also have an added positive impact on sales of imported Sake.
The fastest-growing Sake import market is China and exports sharply rose by more than threefold from 2008, additionally they more than doubled to South Korea. In many other countries Japanese food has already become popular and is now regarded as a normal choice for diners, combined with the rise in Japanese culture, the upcoming Olympics and the huge surge in tourism to Japan; Sake is now a regular product on restaurant menus, in hotels and in supermarkets. The growth in the hospitality sector was being particularly led by the higher-end establishments but has now filtered down to the more mainstream. Also we are seeing Sake bars popping up across the world.
The result is that businesses are now requesting Sake distributors to supply higher-end, rarer Sake. Sakeportal has noticed that as Sake becomes more mainstream, the demand for Sake has changed as the market and the consumers are becoming more sophisticated. With people becoming more aware of Japanese Sake (and Japan in general) they are seeking out new, interesting Sake to import that is in tune with global trends. This is reflected in orders from our clients for non-mass produced Sake with brand stories allowing them to offer attract new consumers and have a differentiated sales points over their competition. With Sakeportal’s private label service businesses can go that extra step and have their own branded Sake for a truly unique sales point.
This is not only great news for Sake export companies but also the Sake trend has created new business ideas across industries from shipping companies now offering bespoke services for the safe shipping of Sake to overseas Sake Sommelier courses. For Sake suppliers and sellers they are grasping this opportunity and developing Sake in ways to match and attract their domestic market. Recent trends include new innovative food pairings, Sake tasting events and Sake cocktails are becoming very fashionable in many major cities. Good Sake distributors will keep up to date with the latest regional and global trends and should adapt their business models to match these trends. At present, the remaining global trend of Artisan is still on point. The inherent sales point that most Sake is not mass-produced and brewed from local brewers matches this global Artisan trend.
Although there is still some market education to be done, thanks to the above factors it is now of minimal concern for Sake distributors and importers. Sake is an exciting new product for many and the Sake export trend is set to continue over the next 5 or 6 years.