Japan's Ajinomoto to dish out frozen foods in France
Company will tap into growing demand for Japanese cuisine
TOKYO -- Seasoning producer Ajinomoto will begin selling frozen foods for the consumer market in Europe, starting with eight products to be carried by major French retailer Carrefour.
Ajinomoto currently sells frozen foods to consumers in the U.S., Hong Kong and Thailand. In Europe, the Japanese company known for little red-capped shakers of MSG will start with France and plans to expand sales across the region. It is considering the U.K. or Germany as its next move.
Ajinomoto will play up the dishes as Japanese food but refine them to suit local tastes, such as gyoza dumplings stuffed with chicken and vegetables. Other items include kara-age fried chicken, yakitori grilled chicken and takikomi-gohan, which is similar to rice pilaf.
Ajinomoto's local subsidiary will develop the products, to be produced by factories in Thailand and elsewhere.
The products will be carried mainly by Carrefour, one France's largest retailers, at about 4,300 locations nationwide beginning in fiscal 2017. They will be priced at 3.95 euros ($4.32) or 5.75 euros, making them slightly more expensive than average for similar items in France. But Ajinomoto will market them as high-end foods made with attention to taste and ingredients.
Ajinomoto already sells frozen foods in France to Japanese restaurants, whose popularity there is growing for their reputation as serving healthy cuisine. In 2016, the market for Japanese food grew in France by 15% on the year. Ajinomoto hopes to capture more of this demand in a market that it expects to keep growing.
In its three-year plan released in February, Ajinomoto designated frozen foods as part of its global strategy. The company is aiming for 527.4 billion yen ($4.67 billion) in international sales in its food product segment in fiscal 2019, a 30% increase over expected figures for fiscal 2016.