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Business

Japanese snack makers expanding in Asia

Foreign tourists want to eat Pocky back home too

Japanese snack maker Calbee has resumed selling Jagabee and other products in Taiwan.

TOKYO -- Japanese snack makers are going on a marketing offensive in Asia to capitalize on the growing popularity of their products.

Calbee will boost the production capacity of its plant for Jagabee in Hong Kong by 50% at a cost of 1 billion yen ($8.76 million) in March. While sales of the puffed potato sticks in Hong Kong are increasing, tourists from the territory to Japan often buy them when they return home.

Calbee will also release new sweet potato-based snacks in a bid to further stimulate demand for its products among consumers in Hong Kong.

In Taiwan, where Calbee stopped selling products due to the termination of a joint venture in 2016, the company has begun selling Jagabee priced 30% lower than the existing line of products at the 7-Eleven chain of some 5,000 convenience stores. Calbee will also release high-end potato chips in mid-January.

In the Philippines, Calbee has also introduced a new potato chip product in a smaller bag at a price that is 70% lower than usual.

With these moves, the company is taking aim at quickly raising its ratio of overseas sales to 30% of its total sales from 11.9% in the business year ended in March 2016.

Ezaki Glico has begun production and sale of a sugar-free chocolate product in Thailand, where consumers are growing health-conscious, using a sweetener called maltitol in place of sugar.

Fujiya has opened a cake shop in Taiwan, its first overseas outlet in seven years. The confectionery is considering establishing a chain of shops there. 

Morinaga will release its Hi-Chew fruity candy in a festive red package in Taiwan.

According to the All Nippon Kashi Association, a confectionery organization in Japan, domestic retail sales of snacks increased 2.5% in 2015 from the previous year to 3.33 trillion yen. It was the third consecutive year-on-year gain, and sales are estimated to have extended the streak for the fourth straight year in 2016.

The rise is attributed to increased purchases by adults and a shift in demand among foreign tourists from luxury goods to daily necessities and food products. In particular, Calbee's Jagabee and Ezaki Glico's Pocky are popular with tourists in Japan.

In addition, Japanese snacks have grown popular among overseas consumers buying made-in-Japan products via the internet, contributing to the growth of sales at Calbee and Morinaga.

As the domestic market has little room left for growth, Japanese manufacturers are eager to take advantage of growing demand abroad for their products.

(Nikkei)

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