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Asia Japan Wine

France returns as Japan’s top wine exporter in 2021

Despite volume decline, Japan's wine import value climbed in 2021, writes Mari Yasuda.

The results of the import of wines to Japan in 2021 were announced by the Japan Customs and the Ministry of Finance. 

According to the statistics, the total import volume of still wines packed in less than 2L in 2021 was 156,141 KL, which is a 4.7% decrease from the previous year. This is the lowest level during the past decade. 

Despite volume decline, import value reached 108 billion yen, which is a 7.7% increase from the previous year.

In 2015, the import volume of Chilean wines exceeded that of French wines which had been the number one wine supplier to Japan until then; however, in 2021, France returned to the top again.

Japan is a huge market for beaujolais nouveau (pic: The Jiji Press, Ltd.)
Japan is a huge market for beaujolais nouveau (pic: The Jiji Press, Ltd.)

One reason is that a disruption in shipping from Chile due to Covid-19. Other reasons are linked to Covid-19 related home consumption. Japanese consumers were obliged to stay home, so they tried to taste different varieties of wines other than Chilean wines which are generally preferred at restaurants and bars for their good value.

Also, consumers tend to buy wines in larger containers such as BIB (Bag in Box) during the pandemic. This explains why the import volume of Chilean wines packed between 2L to 10L recorded a 14.6% increase from the previous year.

The total import volume of sparkling wines was 38,601 KL which is an 8.9% increase from the previous year. This is the second largest volume following that of 2019 (43,828 KL). 

Total import value was 71.6 billion yen, which is a 24.1% increase from the previous year.

With volume dorp and value rise, it’s no surprise that the average price spent on bottled wines in Japan jumped in 2021. 

A unit price of wine (price/ℓ) recorded an increase both in still and sparkling wines. A unit price of still wine in 2021 was 692 Japanese yen (US$5.4), which was a 13% increase from the previous year. A unit price of sparkling wine in 2021 was 1,855 yen (US$14.5), which was a 14% increase from the previous year. 

Premiumisation certainly attributes to the growth but bncreases in FOB prices and freight costs may have pushed up this unit price too. 

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