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Japanese Food Company Focused on Customer Needs and Develop Different Taste Products for Each Countries

| Business Development | 01/25/2014

ANTARA News: Japanese Food Exhibition

Japanese Cuisine in Indonesia Focuses on Taste, Menus Food Safety
Date: Jan 25, 2014
Source: ANTARA News – By Azi Fitriyanti

Jakarta (Antara News) – Japanese companies are more active in promoting their native foods in the Indonesian market due to increasing interest in Japanese foods and the desire by the Indonesian public for high quality foods.

In Indonesia, the number of Japanese restaurants increased 56 percent, compared to 1993. Japanese food, sushi, sashimi, tempura, to name a few, have been famous for many years, and now Japan is ready to develop its market.

“We want to go further. We want Indonesian people are not familiar with Japanese ready meal only, but also its ingredients,” said Japanese Restaurant Organization (JRO) Board of Director Michikazu Aoi, during a Japanese food symposium and exhibition in Jakarta.

The JRO has selected prospective areas where Japanese food is becoming increasingly popular and conducted research concerning the current state of Japanese restaurants, how Japanese foods and ingredients are incorporated, the level of hygiene, and more.

Indonesia was selected as one of the prospective areas, among other countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Thailand. In the ASEAN region, Indonesia is the second largest market for Japanese food, after Thailand.

The President Director of Ajinomoto in Indonesia, a seasonings producer from Japan, Taro Komura, said the challenges to sell their products was in learning to understand the Indonesian way of thinking about Japanese food.

One of these ways of thinking concerns “halal” certification, which certifies that a food product is made free from alcohol, pork and its subsidiaries, which Muslims cannot eat.

“Now, almost 90 percent of Indonesian people demand halal food, even if they are not Muslims,” said Komura.

According to the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI), the agency that authorizes halal certification, consumers accept halal labels on a product as a guarantee of safety, health and hygiene.

Komura noted the Ajinomoto brand, since it has been sold in Indonesia for 40 years, has focused on halal certification as the companys main concern in developing a new product in Indonesia.

Now, Ajinomoto has developed its product using various seasoning ingredients following market trends in Indonesia, including teriyaki sauce, oyster sauce, seasoned flour, and stock powders.

“Our product development indicates a market interest for Japanese cuisine. Ten years ago, nobody would have thought that chicken teriyaki would be popular in Indonesia as a delicious food, yet simple to cook,” said Komura.

The same concern about halal certification was also noticed by Kewpie Mayonnaise, a dressing sauce producer from Japan that holds a Malaysian halal certificate, but also considers halal certification from MUI as being very important.

“We have submitted the application, the process is in progress, and we are still waiting for it,” said a spokesperson for Kwepie during the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) food exhibition in Jakarta on January 21, 2014, who asked not to be identified.

Kwepie has built a factory in Malaysia, the first in an ASEAN country, and aims to build another one in Indonesia next year. Therefore, Kwepies spokesperson said that they have started preparing all Indonesian-related marketing tools, including halal certification and product packaging that is suitable for the culture of Indonesia.

“The Kwepie mayonnaise that has been sold in Indonesia, is a product of Malaysia, and though it has a Malaysian halal certificate, some retailers reject our products because we do not have MUIs halal certificate,” she said.

Kwepies global packaging has a naked baby logo, and will have to be modified to show only a smiley face of the Kwepies baby in Indonesia.

Regarding price, a manager of Hoka-hoka Bento, a Japanese restaurant in Indonesia, Bangkit, said that the company must sell their product at a reasonable price for consumers.

What Hoka-hoka Bento offered is to provide added-values to their menu by offering side-dishes, such as salad and fry sets, including dumplings, shrimp roll, and egg-chicken rolls.

“We dont want to reduce our quality by using low rate ingredients. Sometimes, it takes price, but we give our consumer an added-value for what they have bought from our restaurant,” said Bangkit.

Also, the Hoka-hoka Bento chose local ingredients as their priority, rather than imported goods to put on the menu. Bangkit was not able to name Hoka-hoka Bento local suppliers, but he said almost 80 percent of their food use Indonesian products.

Bangkit stressed that the fry set is the most popular menu among his customers, since Indonesians are very familiar with fried foods and most of the local food they eat daily are also fry cooked.

“It makes Japanese food easier to be accepted by the local people,” he said.

In December 2013, the Japanese food, locally called “washoku“, was recognized as a worlds intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. This made Japan promote their food culture to the world, said a spokesperson of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

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