Brussels, 29 November 2022 – Japan is the third biggest overseas export destination for the Belgian food industry, representing 204 million euros in turnover in 2021. The Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan from 2019 gave our food and drinks exports to Japan a lift. Over thirty food companies will be joining HRH Princess Astrid on the trade mission to Japan from 4 through 9 December to bolster their existing business relations and explore new opportunities. Along with Fevia, the federation of the Belgian food industry, they will be serving proof in Tokyo and Osaka as to why Belgian food and drinks are ‘big’ in Japan.
Third largest overseas export market could do with a boost
Japan spent a long time as the second biggest export destination for the Belgian food industry, coming second only to the USA. However, in 2015 China overtook Japan in this ranking. Since then, the gap has only continued to widen. The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement, which took effect in 2019, soon gave exports a boost.
As expected, since greater access for food and drinks to the Japanese market at better terms was Europe’s top priority to sign this trade agreement. A large number of import duties were scrapped right away, whereas other duties are to be gradually phased out over the years ahead. As a result, Belgian food companies will be able to export most of their products to Japan duty-free by 2035.
“Our food companies need to be smart about the way they use this agreement to their benefit. And the proof is in the pudding: recent years have witnessed a steady albeit modest growth of our export to Japan of 6% per year on average,” explains Fevia CEO Bart Buysse. “In Japan, ‘Belgium’ is synonymous with quality and reliability, two key priorities for Japanese consumers. The country has two traditional months during which gifts are exchanged: ‘ochugen’ in the summer and ‘oseibo’ at the end of the year. Our Belgian beers, chocolates and biscuits are very much staples in the Land of the Rising Sun and are frequently gifted to business relations, friends and relatives. Our fries are another popular Belgian food in Japan, with sales showing good, same as our frozen vegetables.”
Leveraging our strong Belgian reputation during the mission
The agricultural companies and food producers make up the mission’s largest sub-delegation. A lot of breweries and producers of confectionery and fries have been finding their way to Japanese consumers for years. Other food companies will seize on the mission to explore the market. They will do so by joining a retail tour that takes in the main supermarkets and at meetings with purchasing officers in Tokyo and Osaka.
During the mission week, the popular Belgian Beer Weekend will be taking place in Tokyo. At the opening ceremony on Tuesday 6 December, the delegation members, hundreds of Japanese business people and thousands of visitors will be seeing and tasting why Belgian food and drinks are this popular in Japan.
In addition, whilst in Japan, HRH Princess Astrid is to be awarded the title of Honorary Grandmaster of the Knighthood of the Stirring Stick of the Brewers. In accepting, the Princess serves proof that she holds the industry and Belgian beer culture dear. In 2016, our beer culture was designated as UNESCO cultural heritage. Belgian confectionery, pork, Brussels sprouts and Belgian endives will also be stealing the show that evening at the pop-up food stands organised by Fevia and VLAM.
+32 (0)478 24 31 49
Fevia contact person as part of the delegation
International Business Director
+32 (0)478 26 74 72
Fevia, the federation of the Belgian food industry, is committed to building a more sustainable food system, in joint consultation with all stakeholders. As the mouthpiece of the Belgian food industry, Fevia represents over 4,000 companies that produce innovative quality food and beverages in Belgium. In fielding the “Food.be – Small country. Great food.” brand, we are showcasing the strong suits of the industry around the globe.
The food sector is the undisputed frontrunner of the overall Belgian manufacturing industry, accounting for close to 98,000 jobs and representing 61 billion euros in turnover, of which 30 billion euros derives from export sales. Fevia represents 27 sub-sectors and over 700 businesses which jointly account for nearly 90% of all jobs and 90% of the turnover generated by the Belgian food industry. Fevia’s mission is to guide and support the Belgian food industry in creating sustainable added value.
Fevia members taking part in the mission
AGRISTO, AVIETA, BBF THE BREW SOCIETY, BELGIAN PORK GROUP, BRASSERIE DE SILLY, BREWERY CORNELISSEN, BREWERY DE HALVE MAAN, BREWERY L. HUYGHE, BREWERY ROMAN, BREWERY VERHAEGHE VICHTE, CLAREBOUT POTATOES, DELY WAFFELS, EUROFIT, FAIRY CHOCOLATES, FILLIERS DISTILLERY, GIMBER, GUDRUN COMMERCIAL, NEOBULLES, PIPAILLON, PRALIBEL/ICKX, THE BELGIAN CHOCOLATE GROUP, VONDELMOLEN