March 28, 2014 2:13 am JST

At Kikkoman, foreign sales to top Japanese sales in fiscal 2013

TOKYO -- Kikkoman will likely earn a group pretax profit slightly above the expected 21 billion yen ($204 million), thanks in part to growing sales in North America, Europe and Asia.

     Overall sales are estimated to rise 13% to 340 billion yen, around 3 billion yen more than previously projected. The foreign sales ratio will exceed that of domestic sales for the first time ever at the world's largest soy sauce brewer.

     North America, which accounts for about 80% of all sales abroad, is seeing an increase of 4% or so in volume terms. Europe, where Japanese food has made inroads, is ringing up growth of more than 10%. Sales in the Asian market, which includes the Philippines and Thailand, are expected to climb nearly 10%.

     The weakening of the yen is a plus for Kikkoman, which is assuming an exchange rate of 95 to the dollar for the September-March half. This is helping to push up profit earned abroad.

     Soy sauce sales in Japan are soaring a faster-than-expected 20% on the year in March. The popularity of unpasteurized sauce is a contributing factor. But demand for precooked-meal ingredients just ahead of the April 1 consumption tax hike has apparently been limited. Drinks, such as soy milk and tomato juice, are not growing as much as anticipated.

     For fiscal 2014, sales will likely fall off after the surge in pre-hike demand. But led by overseas businesses, Kikkoman expects both sales and profit to grow.