Japan: an important but complex market for Spanish wine

William Long was back in Japan last month, visiting 11 current and potential clients across Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka. And, despite the difficulties of navigating the subway and train networks without being a fluent Kanji reader, he was only late to one appointment! Little short of a miracle.

Japan continues to be an important market for Spanish wine, particularly Cava, being the 6th largest export market in value for Spanish sparkling wines, with a higher than average price per litre. However, in terms of still bottled wines, the volumes have fallen over 10% over the last year, with a low price per litre*. These downward trends seem to be driven by poor exchange rates and competition from Chile and Australia that have agreed free trade tax advantages, although Spain continues to be number 4 in the market after Chile, France and Italy, with its greatest share in the supermarket sector.

William comments on considerations that Spanish producers need to make when approaching the market:

“At Long Wines we have long established relationships with some great partners, vital for ensuring success in this sometimes tricky market. The language barrier is a major one, and general wine knowledge low, so packaging needs to be extremely visual and easy-to-understand, whereas DO names like “Rioja” do not hold the same clout that they do in other markets. Wines that display gold medals continue to see success and the off-trade shelves are full with animal designs, even in premium stores like Meidi-Ya.”

*OEMV data to November 2016