August 31, 2021
min read

FOODEX Japan 2021: How To Engage With Potential Japanese Partners?

Everything you need to know about FOODEX Japan 2021 and insider tips to better approach potential partners and clients.

GourmetPro Expert

Garrett Owen

Ryan is a highly skilled leader with extensive experience in multi-billion-dollar businesses on a global platform. With over ten years in the international arena.

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FOODEX Japan 2021 is a successful annual trade event serving as a central gateway to Japan’s food and beverage retail $424 billion market as well as other lucrative markets across Asia. The 46th edition will take place from March 9th to 12th in Makuhari Messe. This convention center is located in Chiba Prefecture, 30 minutes from Central Tokyo and 40 minutes from Narita International Airport. Registrations are available until February 19th. Interested professionals and companies can inquire here to get a booth.

As the world continues to cope with the ongoing pandemic, FOODEX Japan organizers have pledged to go ahead with the preparation and to stay on schedule, while ensuring they’re compliant with the government latest’s recommendations.

Why is FOODEX Japan 2021 a must for foreign operators looking to enter or expand on the Japanese market?

Network at one of Asia’s largest food and beverage trade shows

Massively growing since its debut in 1976, FOODEX Japan imposed itself as the leading and most significant trade show in the Asia Pacific region. The 2019 edition gathered over 80,000 food and beverage professionals, including close to 11,000 international buyers from Korea, China, and Taiwan, and over 3,300 exhibitors. The event is a central platform for foreign operators looking to enter or expand on the Asian food and beverage market.

Meet with thousands of food and beverage professionals, from retail, wholesale, hospitality, and mass catering, agents, and brokers, over the four days of the event. With a high volume of prospective partners, you have the unique chance to develop serious business leads and get a foothold in Asia. Discover countries’ pavilions and search for exhibitors and products online.

Get to know the food and beverage market dynamics

FOODEX Japan 2021 is also an excellent opportunity to gain insights into the F&B market dynamics in Asia. Visitors can booth ‘hop’ during the four days of the exhibition and attend various seminars and presentations on the food and beverage industry. It goes without saying that sample distribution and testing are on the ‘menu’!

FOODEX Japan 2021

Tuned to the trends that emerged in 2020, the 2021 edition has a clear focus on critical movements for the year to come. The program highlights the pressing needs for new and exciting frozen food, high volume meat importation, food technology, and Japan’s sustainable goals. One exciting upcoming conference will be held by food technology experts on Asia’s present challenges, and their impact on best practices in food processing and distribution. Integrating sustainability as well, FOODEX Japan will also conduct activities centered on food packaging materials, sustainable seafood, protein alternatives, and vegetable foods, and more.

FOODEX Japan 2021

FOODEX Japan 2021 comes back with a hybrid physical and digital exhibition

Recent travel restrictions imposed by countries all over the world have put a damper on the industry's international events. FOODEX Japan 2021 is no exception. While the Japanese government has made exceptions for business travelers, many professionals may be unable to physically visit this year’s edition. So, FOODEX Japan secretariat worked hard to integrate a digital component to the 2021 edition. They hope online events and virtual services will serve as a bridge between exhibitors, buyers, and thousands of international food and beverage professionals who will not be able to travel to Japan for the trade show. Interested professionals can find more information about the virtual exhibition here.

A ‘better than nothing’ approach to the exhibition

Although the efforts made are commendable, when it comes to the food and beverage industry, especially in Asia, physical trade shows are crucially vital. It may be difficult to leverage serious prospects from the virtual exhibition only. Digital form can’t easily replace the need for face to face encounters. That point being made, these solutions—webinars, online business meetings, exclusive access to a large company listing, are a good starting point for foreign operators, and shouldn’t be dismissed.

FOODEX Japan 2021’s virtual exhibition consists of three approaches: digital listing through an exclusive platform, online advertising services, and webinar support. On top of the digital services, the secretariat offers to handle a (smaller) physical booth on exhibitors’ behalf, with staff distributing brochures and eventually samples.

The possibility to organize a booth remotely is a good option for companies that count on FOODEX Japan to be a stepping stone to do business with Asian partners. The right presentation can go a long way to make a good impression, even without physical attendance.

A promising B2B platform online for food and beverage professionals

While the benefit of the online activities promised during the trade show appears limited, FOODEX Japan is building an impressive exclusive listing of international and domestic companies, showcasing up to five products. The platform includes contact services to facilitate online business introduction meetings with potential partners. With promises to be able to reach over 200,000 buyers, this ‘catalog’ sounds like an attractive addition or alternative to the physical exhibition.

The promotion and access to the online listing will go beyond the exhibition dates, ensuring plenty of time to showcase products and services to thousands of international and Japanese food traders, whether they’ll attend the exhibition or not.

Professionals in the food and beverage industry looking to meet Japanese partners should not miss the opportunity to attend and make the best of both the onsite experience and virtual exhibition.

The best place to engage with potential Japanese partners

Despite the circumstances, the exhibition will be attended by every Japanese food channel professional. Whether you are participating in person at the event or will benefit from the online activities organized this time around, keep in mind that trade shows are key to set up an initial informal contact. You will communicate with a lot of Japanese companies that may be interested in doing business with you later down the line.

The key to making the best of the event is to get prepared, from knowing the Japanese business style, to how you present yourself and being committed to the partnership you’re looking for. You should tread carefully with how you present yourself and communicate, to make this event a stepping stone to building partnerships.

Do your homework on Japanese business etiquette

While the event is international, you should definitely brush up on your knowledge about Japanese business culture. Dealing with Japanese companies can be tough. Not knowing how to play the game with them could lead to missed opportunities. Without dwelling on the too many dos and don'ts, respecting a few of their codes can go a long way to achieving trust.

Politeness and formality are expected in pretty much every professional environment. But when it comes to business cards, Japanese people consider them as a physical extension of their person. Receive them with respect and treat them with care. No writing, folding, or sliding a card in your pockets.

If you reach out to potential Japanese partners online, ensure you have a “business card” like an email signature, which clearly states your company name, position, and relevant contact information. It’s not uncommon for Japanese to actually send out digital business cards too!

Prepare your introduction to show reliability

‘Less is more’ doesn’t apply to Japanese business style. Company presentation, product introduction, brochures—bring data and get them right. Rather than trying to impress potential Japanese partners with catchy marketing and polished design, provide accurate information. Numbers matter, but your company history and product’s story matter just as much.

It goes back to knowing a little bit about the Japanese audience. Detailed-oriented and risk-averse, Japanese industry professionals will be convinced by solid documentation. Be real with them and they’ll get to trust you.

Online communication with a potential buyer or importer should be supported by plenty of documentation too. Do ensure they’re user friendly and easy to open and navigate. While the professionals you reach out to may speak English, providing Japanese translation offers a significant advantage. Japanese businesses tend to make decisions collectively. Your documents may have to be shared with non-English speaking employees. Ensure the translation is of high quality and localized to avoid misunderstandings.

Commit and stick to your commitment

We often hear from our clients how surprisingly lengthy the process can turn out to be when dealing with Japanese partners. That’s because Japanese companies do not give their trust easily. They seek long-term partnerships and it takes time and multiple meetings to get there.

FOODEX Japan 2021 and other trade shows offer an excellent environment for a first contact. But good follow-up is key to whether you’ll get down to business with them. Especially if you went through a one to one online business call, do not hesitate to reach out several times, providing additional information and asking questions. Be open to meet their colleagues or partners too.

Planning to attend FOODEX Japan 2021 in Japan or remotely? Our team of experts will help you navigate the exhibition for maximum efficiency.

We can help you prepare FOODEX Japan 2021 to get successfully started with your Japan-related projects!

GourmetPro is a company based in Japan dedicated to helping the food and beverage industry grow internationally by offering end-to-end customizable market-entry solutions. Our experts can help you craft convincing bilingual company and product presentations for you to effectively engage with potential partners. Based on our local knowledge and experience, we can also increase your business opportunities with competition and market analysis, giving you keys to identifying potential areas.

Beyond FOODEX Japan 2021, we can support your projects with end-to-end services for your market entry. We will help you build a strategy based on competitive research, expert interviews, and consumer feedback with focus groups and surveys, verify its feasibility with regulations checks and value chain assessments. We will also support you on your market-entry plan execution by screening distributors, setting-up your supply chain, carrying out negotiations, and more.

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