Frozen food industry in Japan will reach USD 7.49 B by 2024

Frozen Food market in Japan was valued at USD 6.52 billion in 2018 and will grow at the CAGR of 2.4% within the forecasted time period of 2019-2024 because of the increasing number of single-person household and rising need for ready meals in a busy lifestyle.

  • Definition / Scope
  • Market Overview
  • Market Risks
  • Top Market Opportunities
  • Market Drivers
  • Market Restraints
  • Technology Trends
  • Pricing Trends
  • Regulatory Trends
  • Market Size and Forecast
  • Market Outlook
  • Distribution Chain Analysis
  • Key Market Players
  • Strategic Conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix

Definition / Scope

Frozen foods are the food products preserved by rapid freezing process and kept frozen until they are packed in cartons, wrappers, cans or trays. In today’s busy lifestyle, its consumption is gaining popularity as they are very easy to prepare and serve. In the context of Japan, top six best-frozen foods are Tsukemen, authentic fried rice, spaghetti, grilled onigiri rice balls, chicken, and gyoza. Frozen food market can be categorized into the following types on the basis of the type of food products:

  • Frozen Readymade meals
  • Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
  • Frozen Meat
  • Frozen Fish and Seafood
  • Frozen Bakery Products

Market Overview

In Japan, frozen food shared almost 3% of the total food market in 2018. Its market size was valued at USD 6.52 billion in 2018, which is increased from USD 6.26 billion in 2016. It is growing at the CAGR of 2.4% and is expected to reach USD 7.49 billion by 2024 because of the increasing aging population and busy lifestyle.

On the basis of the type of frozen food, readymade meals hold the largest market share almost 30.76% followed by meat and seafood. The frozen food market is overwhelmed with the varieties of innovation in the freezing process such as ultra-violet, magnetic, radio frequency assisted freezing and freezing designs (contact, plate freezers). The key market players engaged in this market are Maruha Nichiro Seafoods, Nichirei, Tablemark, Ajinomoto and Nippon Suisan.

Market Risks

  • Risk of certain nutrient Loss

While processing the food (peeling, blanching, freezing) to prepare the frozen food, some of the heat-sensitive nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B are lost. Almost 50% of Vitamin C levels are decreased in frozen foods. Because of this, people might prefer fresh fruits and vegetables enriched with vitamin C instead of the frozen one. This might be the risk for the frozen food market.

Top Market Opportunities

  • Increasing single person and elderly household

The population census of 2018 had shown that there are almost 34.6% of one-person households in Japan , which has been increased from 27.9% in 2001. It is expected to reach 40% by 2040. Along with this, the aged population account for 27.7% of the total population and number of elderly households (private house with members of age 65 years or over) are 21.71 million.

Out of this, almost 5.93 million were single-person elderly households. This demographic transition and increasing trend of single-person households are creating a favorable environment for the growth of the demand of the ready to use frozen food.

  • High shelf life of frozen foods

The shelf life of the fruits and vegetables is increased after the freezing process. For instance, the shelf life of apples at room temperature is about 1 week while the frozen apples are almost 1 year. This will drive the demand for frozen food.

Market Drivers

  • Busy lifestyle and rising share of women employment

Japan has the longest working hours in the world and nearly a quarter of Japanese companies have employees more than 80 hours of overtime in a month.  A labor force survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has found that nearly 51.3% of women were employed, which accounts for almost 29.46 million of the total population.

Female employment is rising at a rate of almost 3.9%. In 2018, a publication on food and nutrition education by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has shown that almost 17.9% of young people in Japan seldom eat breakfast. One of the most important reasons behind this is that they have little time to eat. This busy schedule of Japanese population is driving the need for frozen foods and its market.

  • Increasing consumption of frozen foods

In 2018, the national consumption of frozen foods has reached almost 2,855,330 tons, which has been increased by 4.7% in comparison to consumption in 2016. This increasing amount of frozen food consumption is rising the growth of its market.

Market Restraints

  • Contamination of frozen food

In Japan, mass poisoning was traced in about 6.4 million of frozen foods (frozen pizza, chicken nuggets) manufactured by Maruha Nichiro Holdings. Because of this, almost hundreds of people were suffered from symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea by food contamination with the pesticide malathion. 

Along with this, almost 2.6 million times higher concentration of pesticide residue was detected in a croquette (4000 ppm of malathion). This incidence will create the risk regarding the assurance of the safety of frozen food, which in turn for the growth of its market.

  • Retain the physical properties of food

In frozen foods, moisture migration usually affects food texture and palatability. As a result, foods such as fruits will be watery and mushy. So, it is challenging for the frozen food industries to retain the physical and biochemical properties of the food in order to sustain the rising demand for frozen food.

Technology Trends

Different technological advancements are introduced in the freezing procedures and the freezers in the context of the frozen food market. Freezing process such as hydro-fluidization, high pressure-assisted, ultrasonic-assisted, magnetic resonance assisted, electrostatic assisted, microwave-assisted, radio-frequency assisted freezing and dehydro freezing. Some of the technological changes in the freezer designs are highlighted as follows:

  • Contact Freezers: They are more energy-efficient and faster freezers specially designed for the soft, delicate and semi-liquid foods.
  • Plate Freezers: It consists of fully automated semi-continuous plate freezing systems and allows the freezing of multiple package sizes on the same line.
  • Belt Freezers: It uses the disposable plastic film to freeze the contact surface of the product rapidly and effectively.
  • Immersion Freezers: In this freezers, the products to be frozen are immersed in the tanks of non-toxic salt, sugar or alcohol solution in water or cryogen.
  • Droplet freezers: In order to solidify the liquid, it is injected in the form of a spray or droplets into the cold gaseous environment of nitrogen.

Pricing Trends

The price of frozen food products depends upon the type of food products and their brands. In Japan, generally, the price of most of the frozen food products such as sushi, noodles ranges from USD 1 to USD 8500. The current price value of some of the popular Japanese frozen foods are discussed as follows:

Regulatory Trends

In the context of Japan, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) is the concerned authority for the regulation of the food market and Japan Frozen food Association manages the frozen food market.

Before manufacture and sale, the products must be certified by the frozen food certification system under frozen food inspection guideline and frozen foods manufacturing facility certification guideline.

In order to export the frozen vegetables and fruits, the companies must gain the phytosanitary certificate issued by USDA Animal Health and Plant Health Inspection Service. In order to export meat and poultry products, manufacturers must be certified with FSIS forms.

Market Size and Forecast

Globally, the frozen food market was valued at USD 219.87 billion in 2018 and is estimated to grow at the CAGR of 5.14% during the time period of 2019-2023. It is expected to reach USD 282.5 billion by 2023.

In the context of Japan, the market size of frozen food was valued at USD 6.52 billion in 2018, which is increased from USD 6.26 billion in 2016. It is estimated to grow at the CAGR of 2.4% within the time period of 2019-2024.

By food category

  • Frozen ready meals hold the largest market share almost 30.76% followed by meat and seafood. The market size of frozen ready meals was valued at USD 2005.55 million in 2018.

Market Outlook

Japanese frozen food market is estimated to grow at the rate of 2.4% within the forecasted time horizon of 2019-2024. It will reach USD 7.49 billion by 2024 because of the increasing number single-person household and busy lifestyle.

Distribution Chain Analysis

In Japan, frozen food products are available at the online sale, supermarket, department stores, drug health and beauty stores, general retailers, food and drinks specialist, and hypermarket. Convenience stores are the major retail purchasing choice and Online sale is expected to grow rapidly.

Key Market Players

  • Maruha Nichiro Holdings, Inc.: It is one of the largest fishing and food companies including frozen food products pursuing new possibilities in the food products market.
  • Nichirei Food: It is a Japanese company engaged in manufacturing and selling of processed and frozen foods.
  • TableMark: It is a creator of processed food with the sale revenue USD 1.19 billion and capital of USD 2100 million.
  • Ajinomoto Co., Inc.: It manufactures the frozen food, seasonings, and processed foods and coffee. Here, sales of frozen food are comprised of almost 26% of the business. Its market size was valued at USD 3.67 billion.
  • NH foods Ltd.: It is concerned with the manufacture of processed foods, marine products, dairy products, natural flavorings, and health foods.
  • Nippon Suisan: It is a marine product (fresh or frozen) company based in Japan engaged in fishing, cultivation, processing, and sale of seafood.

Strategic Conclusion

Frozen food market in Japan is in the growth stage because of the increasing demand for the readymade frozen foods, busy lifestyle and increasing number of single-person households.

However, the incidences of contamination of frozen food might restrain its growth. So, the market players must be concerned with the safety of frozen food products.




  • USD= United States Dollar
  • PPM= Parts per million

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