No.2447
07/09/2020

Rice and Rice Meal Business in Japan: Key Research Findings 2019

​Yano Research Institute (the President, Takashi Mizukoshi) carried out a survey on the domestic rice and rice meal business markets and found out the trends by segment, the trends of market players, and future perspectives.


Transition of Rice Business Market Size (including Exporting and Local Production of “Japonica” Rice Overseas)
Transition of Rice Business Market Size (including Exporting and Local Production of “Japonica” Rice Overseas)
Transition of Rice Meal Market Size
Transition of Rice Meal Market Size

Market Overview

Washoku, or traditional Japanese cuisine, has become a worldwide boom because of the recent trend of health consciousness and as it became included on the list of world's intangible cultural heritages. According to the estimation by MAFF (the Ministriy of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), the number of Japanese-food restaurants around the world reached 156,000 in 2019, 1.3 times larger than two years ago. Because Japanese short-grain rice, characterized as sticky and contains substantial amount of water, is indispensable to Japanese cuisine such as Sushi, everyone’s favorite, the demand for Japanese rice produced in Japan has been increasing due to its quality and taste. According to Trade Statistics of Japan by the Ministry of Finance, the largest importer of Japanese rice from Japan both in volume and value in 2018 was Hong Kong, followed by Singapore. While Hong Kong and Singapore are by far the largest two export destinations of rice for Japan, the U.S. has jumped up as the third largest importer of Japanese rice from Japan. The entire Japanese rice business size which includes the breed improvement, production, processing, logistics, and sales (including exporting and local production of “Japonica” rice overseas) rose to 30,300 million yen in FY2018, 119.8% of the size of the previous fiscal year.

On the other hand, the domestic rice meal market, a mix of daily distributed cooked rice (such as lunch boxes with rice, Onigiri rice balls, etc.) and processed rice products (such as frozen, retort-pouched, and aseptic-packaged cooked rice/rice meals, etc.,) had once slowed down due to economic downturn, but then upturned to kept the steadfast growth, as cooked meals have been highly demanded to save labor at growing number of single households and dual income households. The entire domestic rice meal market for FY2018 achieved 2,484,800 million yen, 101.5% of the preceding fiscal year.

Noteworthy Topics

Aseptic-Packaged Cooked Rice Started Being Used for Emergency Supplies and at Food Service Chains

Aseptic-packaged cooked rice has been recognized as an item that can be used as a part of daily meals and as an item appropriate for the government-recommended “rolling stock” method of emergency stockpiling, which is the method to periodically consume the stocked items from the stockpile and then replacing them with new ones, because of its availability to store at room temperature. Among those aseptic-packaged cooked rice, brown rice and functional-rice (such as sprouted brown rice) have been popular especially among health-conscious women due to their “high quality” “appropriate volume”, and healthiness.

In recent years, these packed rice products have been used not only at households but at food service business chains. In order to respond to increasing demand, each food package maker has invested in facilities to improve productivity, but the supply failed to catch up with the demand, which led the aseptic-packed rice market (based on the retail sales) to remain at 67,300 million yen, 106.0 % of the size of the previous fiscal year.

Future Outlook

Taking into account the admiration for the traditional Japanese cuisine by the growing number of tourists from overseas, and as the Olympic and Paralympic Games were to take place in 2020, the entire rice business size including the breed improvement, production, processing, logistics, and sales (with exporting and local production of “Japonica” rice overseas included) was expected to rise to 60,100 million yen by FY2023, 198.3% of the size of FY2018.

As take-away meals demand increased as these meals applied to reduced tax rates when the consumption tax hike started in October 2019, together with larger demand than before for cooked meals at growing number of single and dual income households, the cooked rice meal market based on the retail sales was expected to generate 2,669,100 million yen by FY2023, a rise by 7.4% from FY2018.


*The estimation does not include the COVID-19 influence, as it is based on the research that took place mostly in 2019.

Research Outline

1.Research Period: April 2019 to January 2020
2.Research Object: Companies pertaining to rice, rice meal manufacturers, and relevant industrial organizations and government offices
3.Research Methogology: Face-to-face interviews by the specialized researchers, interviews via telephone/email, and literature research

The Rice Business and the Rice Meal Market

The rice business in this research refers to the business extensively related to rice, ranging from breed improvement, production, processing, logistics, and sales (including exporting as well as production of short-grained “Japonica” rice at local farms overseas,) and also the business of functional rice development and processing, all of which are taken the initiative by the Japanese enterprises.

The rice meal market in this research refers to the domestic market of daily distributed cooked rice (such as lunch boxes with rice, Onigiri (rice balls), takeaway Bento, takeaway Sushi, takeaway Donburi (rice bowls), and other rice dishes,) and of processed rice products (such as frozen, retort-pouched, and aseptic-packaged cooked rice/rice meals, and etc.) The market size is calculated based on the retail sales. Because the estimation of the market size was carried out in January 2020, no influence of COVID-19 pandemics is included.

<Products and Services in the Market>

The rice business: breed improvement, production, processing, logistics, and to sales (including exporting and local production of “Japonica” rice overseas), the business of functional rice development and processing. The rice meal market: lunch boxes with rice, Onigiri (rice balls), takeaway Bento, takeaway Sushi, takeaway Donburi (rice bowls), and other rice dishes,) frozen, retort-pouched, and aseptic-packaged cooked rice/rice meals, and etc.

Published Report

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