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Food Japan 2019
Our recent visit to Food Japan 2019 at Singapore’s Suntec City Convention Centre was an eye-opening experience for us. This large ASEAN trade event features over 200 exhibitors across 40 Japanese prefectures. These exhibitors were there to showcase new-to-market and new-to-Singapore products. The trade show tasted for 3 days from 31 October to 2 November 2019.
We checked out the new-to-market Japanese brands across the show floor and discovered some of the new market trends in Japanese F&B. And in this post, we excited to share with you some of the insights we have gathered through this trade show.
1. Enjoy the exotic fish produce from Japan – anytime, anywhere.
With technology, the opportunities seem limitless. This fishery from Kagoshima, Japan offers processed fish products stored in frozen vacuumed-packs.
With that, you can enjoy some of the exotic Japanese fish delicacies (like Japanese Butterfish and Japanese amberjack) anywhere around the world. You can enjoy some of the freshest fish-based products hailed directly from Kagoshima Fishmarket.
2. From fruit-based Sakes to Blue Pea Sake
Sakes are Japanese so-called staple alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. To appeal to a wider crowd, there are so many different forms of this popular Japanese alcoholic drink. I’ve tasted Yuzu sake before but not these fruit juice-based sakes which are brewed from Omi Rice and blended with pure fruit juice.
They taste more like cocktails which are more palatable for those who can’t really take alcohol.
Another interesting take on sake we discovered during the event is this Blue Japanese Sake that is made from Butterfly Pea flower.
This flower is most commonly found in Southeast Asia. And what’s really interesting about the natural blue essence extracted from this flower is that it turns purple upon reacting with acids (e.g lemon or lime juice).
In Singapore, people have been using blue pea essence as a natural food colouring. Thus, it’s nothing new here but it is probably an ingredient which is unheard of in Japan.
Indeed, it turns out to be something of interest to the Japanese. The creator of this blue sake shared with us that they were featured on NHK, Japanese broadcasting network during the trade fair.
Can sake be made into a slushie? Sure indeed. I wonder if someone has already come up with sake ice cream.
3. Flavourful seasonings to enhance the taste of dishes
The art of food preservation in Japan is very advance. You can find a lot of fermented, dried and preserved food products which serve as flavourings, condiments or dish toppings. They often go well with plain rice, soup or ramen.
This seasoned enoki mushrooms, for instance, goes well with toast and some melted cheese. It saves a lot of cooking and preparation time when food comes in air-tight jars and vacuum packs.
Such preserved food has a longer shelf-life but at the same time, it is usually high in sodium and preservatives are added to lengthen the shelf-life. But we do see a growing trend towards the use of natural preservatives in Japanese products.
Some also utilised other preservation methods like dehydration and other drying techniques to preserve the food without additives. Japanese Scallops, for instance, can be dehydrated and packed individually. It is eaten as a snack in Japan.
4. An ordinary ingredient turns extraordinary with technology
These innovative food brands, like Tamatein, is a testament to prove that innovation strives in Japan. Tamatein is an egg-based jelly drink which is high in protein. You can think of it as a protein or energy jelly drink which is great for gym-goers and ageing seniors.
5. Emerging gluten-free, vegan-friendly and health food trends
We all know that Japanese desserts usually contain dairy. Thus, this explains why their cheesecakes are always creamier. However, with the increasing number of people turning to meat-free and dairy-free diets, there is a rising demand for non-dairy and vegan-friendly products.
This Japanese pastry brand created a vegan version of Cheesecake using 100% Japanese rice flour and soymilk. We tried it and boy, it tasted so good!
There are also many other brands offering gluten-free noodles and pasta containing natural ingredients like sprouted brown rice or pre-germinated brown rice.
There is also a number of brands which uses brown rice (with husks) and barley to produce bread flour and noodles. And barley might be the next big superfood as it has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) than rice. Barley also contains a higher amount of dietary fibre than white rice.
Japan is well-known for its high-quality food produce and innovation in food. These emerging food trends will definitely dominate the market in the upcoming years, especially with the growing demand for healthier food products.
In addition, consumers these days are more conscious of the food choices that they make. I believe that there will be a demand for sustainably-sourced food in the years to come as everyone’s attention is on world problems like climate change and poverty.