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  • Importing organic coffee into Japan

     
     

    The Japan Agricultural Standard (JAS) for Organic Agricultural Products entered into force in April 2002. Enacted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, JAS regulates the production and labelling of organic food items produced in Japan. Although coffee is not grown in Japan, JAS nevertheless also covers organic coffee (and tea) under 'organic agricultural products'. The JAS standard has been further revised in 2005. For more information visit http://www.maff.go.jp/e/jas/index.html.

    Only Ministry-accredited certifying bodies may issue JAS organic certification for coffee to be imported into Japan. See section 03.02.15 for names and website addresses of some of the certifying bodies currently known to be active in coffee in Japan. Interested certifying bodies in producing countries may also apply for accreditation under JAS. And, subject to meeting the JAS standard for their products, set by the Agriculture Ministry, suppliers of organic coffee and tea may display the JAS mark, giving Japan also a single organic label for the entire Japanese market.

    Ministry of Agriculture data for 2008 indicate total imports of organic coffee of some 134,000 bags GBE. This compares with 2004 imports of around 40,000 bags and confirms growing consumer interest. Industry sources consider that in recent years the quality of organic coffee imported by Japan has improved quite considerably. Prospects for good cupping coffees are encouraging, also because the reputation for better quality and flavour associated with organic fresh produce items supports positive interest in organically grown coffee. But only if that coffee is of good to absolutely excellent quality…

    Growth in the consumption of average quality organic coffee is very slow because it attracts limited interest only, especially when price expectations are unrealistic. Trade sources suggest the organic premium potential for such coffees is very limited, not even reaching 10 cts/lb, but consumers are prepared to pay more for quality. In fact, the growth potential for high quality organic coffee in Japan is seen as very encouraging indeed and the challenge for producers is to ensure adequate and regular availability.

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