The Japan Agricultural News site has some good news - although we're not long past the middle of the year, things are already looking positive for exports and that includes sake.
Trade statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Finance show that exports of agricultural produce, such as beef and sake, for January to June 2018 indicate they may be heading for new records.
Taiwan restarted imports of beef from Japan last year, which contributed to exports in the first half of this year. Increased sales of sake were put down to the popularity of Japanese food, with exports breaking the JPY 10 billion mark in the first half of the year for the first time. Exports of green tea were concentrated on Europe and North America, while Vietnam was a strong importer of cut flowers and potted plants.
Sake exports by value grew by 22% over the previous year to JPY 10.5 billion, with volume increasing by 14% to 12,722 kilolitres. Analysis from the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association was that increased numbers of Japanese restaurants abroad had driven exports up. The largest export destination was North America, which increased by 2% to JPY 3.1 billion, followed by China (increased by 70% to JPY 1.8 billion) and Hong Kong (increased by 40% to JPY 1.7 billion). The first half of 2018 was the first time China overtook Hong Kong in the rankings.
The value of green tea exports increased by 2% to JPY 6.9 billion, a new record for the first half of the year. North America was again the biggest market, increasing by 5% to JPY 2.9 billion. Exports to Germany increased by 24% to JPY 0.6 billion. JETRO and the Ministry of Agriculture cited an explosion in the popularity of matcha as well as an increase in consumption of high quality sencha in North America and Europe.