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C o n t e n t s
. D e f i n i t i o n o f I t e m
. I m p o r t t r e n d s
B. Imports by country and geographic area C. Share of Imported Products in the Japanese Market . C o n s i d e r a t i o n s i n I m p o r t i n g a n d S e l l i n g P r o p o l i s
A. Legal Regulations and Procedures in Importing B. Legal Regulations and Procedures in Selling . L a b e l i n g
A. Labeling Compliant with Legal Restrictions . T a x S y s t e m
. P r o d u c t C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s
B. Characteristics of Producing Countries and Geographic Areas . P r o d u c t D i s t r i b u t i o n s , B u s i n e s s P r a c t i c e s , e t c . i n J a p a n
C. Points to be Considered for New Propolis Market Entry . P o s t - s a l e S e r v i c e
. R e l a t e d P r o d u c t s
. P o i n t s t o b e C o n s i d e r e d i n P e r s o n a l I m p o r t s
A p p e n d i x
A . L i s t o f R e l a t e d O r g a n i z a t i o n s
B . O t h e r r e f e r e n c e i n f o r m a t i o n
Yen-Dollar Exchange Rates
Source:”Intermational Financial Statistics,” IMF . D e f i n i t i o n o f I t e m
Natural honey is a sweet substance produced in the honeycomb where bees store honey collected from floral sources. It is defined in the Tariff Classification Provisions as follows: “Honey is a substance whose cane sugar content should be below five percent of its total weight, fructose content above 30 percent of its total weight, and fructose content above 50 percent of all sugar content.” Other items otherwise defined that are also treated as natural honey when they are endorsed by the authorities in the exporting countries, and properties and analysis data comply with those of natural honey.
Propolis is a gluey substance with pellets made up of a combination of tree sap and enzyme contained in bees’ saliva. Propolis on sale in the marketplace comes in the category of food- grade alcohol extracts such as ethanol.
Note: HS numbers other than 0409. 00 (natural honey) represent a number of items other than natural honey discussed in this report, but the statistics given in the report will refer only . I m p o r t t r e n d s
. I m p o r t s
. N a t u r a l h o n e y
Natural honey imported in 1998 was less in volume than in 1997 amounting to 29,425 tons, down 14.3 percent from the previous year and 4,529 million yen, down 25.3 percent from the previous year. The reasons for its downturn were reduced demand in Japan, production in China - the largest exporting country, and Japanese importers not importing as much as they used to because of price increases worldwide.
F i g u r e 1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y I m p o r t s
2 . P r o p o l i s
No customs clearance statistics are available on propolis as no HS numbers are assigned to it.
However, according to its importers and processing companies, as the efficacy of the product’s antibiotic and anti-viral properties become better known to consumers in general, imports of propolis are on the increase as shown below. Reasons for this rise in imports include the fact that consumers have become more health- conscious and more familiar with propolis because of increased exposure to advertisements for it.
F i g u r e 2 . P r o p o l i s I m p o r t s
The above statistics are based on estimates by Industrial Marketing Consultants Co. (IMC, B . I m p o r t s b y c o u n t r y a n d g e o g r a p h i c a r e a
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
Major exporting countries of natural honey to Japan include the People’s Republic of China, Argentina, Canada, the U.S.A., and New Zealand, and of these countries China accounts in value for 85.2 percent of all exports to Japan. Imports from these countries declined in volume between 1998 and the previous year, the decrease ranging from 12.7 to 61.7 percent.
The reason for the large volume of imports from China is partly because the Chinese government is promoting its exports, and partly because the kind of natural honey sourced from Chinese milk vetch and acacia is much to the taste of the Japanese. The natural honey from acacia preferred by the Japanese had been imported from Hungary before being obtained from China. Hungarian honey used to maintain a high level of quality when the country was under a socialist government with rigid quality assurance in place. This quality, however, has fallen off under the liberalized economic system, and exports to Japan have decreased as a F i g u r e 3 . M a j o r E x p o r t i n g C o u n t r i e s o f N a t u r a l H o n e y t o J a p a n
Source: Japan Exports & Imports 2 . P r o p o l i s
Importers and processing companies in Japan report that Brazil is the largest exporter of propolis to Japan, accounting in volume for some 80 percent of its total imports, followed by China with around 10 percent. The remaining 10 percent is shared among the countries other than China and Brazil. The quality of propolis varies according to the ingredients in the tree sap and tree buds. It is believed that the propolis coming from Brazil, where the natural environment is harsh, has the largest content of beneficial ingredients, resulting in increased C . S h a r e o f I m p o r t e d P r o d u c t s i n t h e J a p a n e s e M a r k e t
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
In recent years, imports of natural honey to Japan have been on the decline. While imports were at a high level in 1998 at 90.7 percent (the ratio of imported honey relative to total consumption in Japan) the imports came down 1.1 percentage point as compared with the Declining demand for natural honey in Japan was the reason for reductions in imports.
Some of the reasons for this are a sagging economy, prevalence of confectionery, consumers being more interested in keeping themselves slim.
F i g u r e 4 . I m p o r t e d N a t u r a l H o n e y S h a r e i n t h e J a p a n e s e M a r k e t
Source: Reference material on Beekeeping 2 . P r o p o l i s
While imports of propolis have been increasing, production in Japan is declining, raising the share of imports to some 96 percent in 1998. Importers and processing companies in Japan say that propolis pellets coming from countries other than Brazil are rated low as they have a low content of efficacious ingredients. Accordingly, imports of propolis from Brazil are expected to remain strong, increasing their share in the Japanese market. Only small amounts of propolis pellets produced in Japan are exported.
F i g u r e 5 . I m p o r t e d P r o p o l i s S h a r e i n t h e J a p a n e s e M a r k e t
The above statistics are based on estimates by IMC.
. C o n s i d e r a t i o n s i n I m p o r t i n g a n d S e l l i n g P r o p o l i s
A . L e g a l R e g u l a t i o n s a n d P r o c e d u r e s i n I m p o r t i n g
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
Imports of natural honey to be sold as food in Japan are subject to the “Food Sanitation Law.”This law stipulates that imports of natural honey require the submission of “ImportRegistration of Foods” properly filled in together with other relevant documents to theMonitoring Authorities of Imported Foods at the Quarantine Station located at CustomsClearance. The Import Registration of Foods and other relevant documents submitted will bereviewed by the Food Hygiene Monitor to determine if inspection is necessary. If no inspectionis needed, approval of the Import Registration of Foods is issued.
Various measures have been taken to streamline and simplify import-related paper work,such as advance import registrations, control of imports, acceptance of test results by theauthorities in the exporting countries, continuous imports, advance confirmation of imports offoods, import item registrations, etc.
The Food Sanitation Law states that no antibiotics may be contained in foods in general. Insome countries, Tetracycline based antibiotics are used to prevent epidemics in bees, and thismay increase the possibility of their being mixed into natural honey and propolis. No importsare permitted into Japan of products that are found to contain antibiotics, and therefore closeattention should be paid to the antibiotic content of natural honey.
2 . P r o p o l i s
Propolis is classified as a health food in Japan, and is therefore (like natural honey) subject to the “Food Sanitation Law” for its importation.
Food import registration and other related documents Description of raw materials, ingredients and Sanitation certificateInspection certificate B . L e g a l R e g u l a t i o n s a n d P r o c e d u r e s i n S e l l i n g
The selling in Japan of natural honey and propolis as food items must comply with labeling stipulated in the Food Sanitation Law and the Weights and Measures Law. For labeling that mentions medicinal efficacy, it is necessary to file the appropriate applications and comply with C . G o v e r n m e n t A g e n c i e s i n v o l v e d :
The government agencies involved with import applications are as follows: Food Sanitation Division, Environmental Health Bureau, Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) Weights and Measures Office, Machinery and Information Industries Bureau, Ministry of Planning Division, Pharmaceutical and Medical . L a b e l i n g
A . L a b e l i n g C o m p l i a n t w i t h L e g a l R e s t r i c t i o n s
The labeling method must comply with the Food Sanitation Law and Weights and Measures Law, and it must observe the following labeling method for natural honey and propolis to be - Name of manufacturer, or importing company and its address F i g u r e 6 . S a m p l e L a b e l – H o n e y F i g u r e 7 . S a m p l e L a b e l – P r o p o l i s
B . L a w f u l O p t i o n a l L a b e l i n g
There is no officially designated optional label for natural honey and propolis.
C . I n d u s t r y p r e p a r e d O p t i o n a l L a b e l i n g
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
For natural honey there is a labeling practice independently established by the honey industry organization, the “National Honey Fair Trade Council,” in which a “Fair Trade Practice in Honey Labeling” is promoted in line with the “Unreasonable Gift Give-away Prevention Law.” Use of the logo of the National Honey Fair Trade Council is permitted when F i g u r e 8 . H o n e y F a i r T r a d e L o g o
2 . P r o p o l i s
The Japan Health and Nutrition Foods Association and The Japan Propolis Conference, as part of voluntary control over the propolis business, have prepared a set of standards to be shown on labeling regarding ingredients, manufacture, processing, etc. Use of the organizations’ logos is allowed when quality and labeling meet their standards.
F i g u r e 9 . L o g o o f t h e J a p a n H e a l t h a n d F i g u r e 1 0 . L o g o o f t h e J a p a n
N u t r i t i o n F o o d A s s o c i a t i o n
P r o p o l i s C o u n c i l
. T a x S y s t e m
A . T a r i f f s
Import tariffs for natural honey and propolis are as follows.
B . C o n s u m p t i o n T a x
. P r o d u c t C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s
A . D i f f e r e n c e s f r o m D o m e s t i c P r o d u c t s
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
One of the big differences between domestically produced natural honey and its imported counterpart is considered to be the flavor. While in Japan the four seasons are distinct, with different flowers in bloom in each season, in most of the other honey producing countries, the four seasons are not so distinct. For that reason, it is often said that the flavor of imported natural honey is less uniform than that of its Japanese counterpart.
2 . P r o p o l i s
The quality of propolis depends on the efficacious ingredients in propolis pellets, and high quality propolis is produced in areas where the natural environment is severe. Domestically produced propolis is considered to contain fewer effective ingredients than the Brazilian propolis, and demand for it is therefore low.
B . C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f P r o d u c i n g C o u n t r i e s a n d G e o g r a p h i c A r e a s
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
Natural honey has different characteristics depending on its country of origin because the
floral sources differ from one country to another. China is considered to have a climate similar
to that of Japan, producing natural honey that is to the taste of the Japanese.
In Hungary, where the spring season is short and many sorts of flowers bloom at the same
time, natural honey from a single flower source is hard to obtain.
2 . P r o p o l i s
Propolis pellet coming from Brazil is most highly regarded in Japan. It is said that the tree
sap bees collect from the untapped jungle contains high levels of germ-killing ingredients, and
they are highly valued. In Brazil, such provinces as Sao Paulo, Minas, and Parana are well
known for producing propolis of high quality
. P r o d u c t D i s t r i b u t i o n s , B u s i n e s s P r a c t i c e s , e t c . i n J a p a n
A . M a r k e t s i n J a p a n
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
Consumption of natural honey in Japan is classfied into table honey (household) and honey
for industrial applications. According to natural honey processing companies in Japan, some 60
percent is consumed as table honey and the remaining 40 percent is used in industrial
In the household use, honey is frequently eaten together with bread, and demand for it in
the last few years has been flat to slightly downturning. In recent years, jam with a low calorie
content has been preferred over high calorie honey as consumers have become more health-
conscious, paying more attention to their figures. The trend in Japan with respect to natural
honey is that it should not smell strong, be light-colored, and taste simple and plain.
Accordingly, the natural honey most consumed in Japan these days is produced from acacia
and Chinese milk vetch flowers.
In the industrial applications, natural honey is used as a sweetener for confectionery such as
cookies and non-alcoholic beverages. Therefore, demand for it in this field is less stable than
for table honey. Fluctuations are caused by new product development at food and beverage
Strong ties exist between major trading companies and major honey packing companies. To
cite examples, Kato Brothers Honey Co., Ltd. is connected to SC Foods Co., Ltd., and Japan
Honey Co., Ltd. to Mitsubishi Corp.
Among the honey packers who deal mainly with table honey, Kato Brothers Honey Co.
(under the Sakura brand) and Japan Honey Co. (under the Milk Vetch brand) conduct
nation-wide marketing under these brands. Api Co., Ltd., although not involved withmarketing under its own brand, is a promising packer that is successful in the subcontractedproduction business.
Meidi-ya Co., Ltd. classified as a retailer, has been offering its own brand of honey, but its packaging is farmed out to Nisshin Honey Co., Ltd.
2 . P r o p o l i s
Knowledge of propolis has spread fast in Japan since 1985 when the product was introduced
for the first time at an international beekeeping conference held in Nagoya. Demand for it
has been on the rise in recent years aided by increased awareness of health on the part of
general consumers.
In some countries, propolis is treated as a pharmaceutical item, but in Japan it is positioned
as a health food item.
Propolis is sold in different physical forms including powder and liquid, but it is generally sold
in liquid form.
A well known manufacture in Japan is Nihon Propolis Co., Ltd., which has product display
facilities in place to aggressively promote propolis products. The company has patented some
new propolis extracting techniques in an effort to differentiate itself from its rivals.
B . D i s t r i b u t i o n C h a n n e l s
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
There are two distribution channels for natural honey, one for table honey (household) and
the other for industrial honey. Natural honey is supplied in large drums, and honey packers
repack it into bottles and plastic containers to be distributed and sold in the consumer market. It
is widely on sale at convenience stores and supermarkets, where it is in competition with
products such as jams and the like. Natural honey is in this way being forced into its own
smaller niche.
F i g u r e 1 1 . D i s t r i b u t i o n C h a n n e l s f o r N a t u r a l H o n e y
Solid lines represent table honey distribution channels, and dotted lines those of industrialhoney 2 . P r o p o l i s
Most propolis is imported by importers, processing companies and manufacturers in Japan in
the form of pellets. Finished propolis is rarely imported ready for sale in the Japanese market.
The imported propolis pellets undergo extraction and are refined into a commercially sellable
product. The finished product is supplied to final customers by way of agents, retailers and mail
order houses.
Propolis is positioned as a health food item and commands a higher profit margin than
ordinary food-stuffs having easier market entry. As a result, there are a number of small scale
propolis sellers in the marketplace, but no full-fledged marketers have yet appeared.
F i g u r e 1 2 . D i s t r i b u t i o n C h a n n e l s f o r I m p o r t e d P r o p o l i s
C . P o i n t s t o b e C o n s i d e r e d f o r N e w P r o p o l i s M a r k e t E n t r y
As mentioned earlier, imports of natural honey and propolis are subject to the regulations of
the Food Sanitation Law in Japan. This law stipulates that no foodstuff may contain antibiotics.
In some countries Tetracycline-based antibiotics and the like are used. This is to prevent
epidemics in bees and leads to the possibility of antibiotics contaminating the honey and
propolis. No imports are permitted once antibiotics of any sort are detected at the time of
importation, and utmost attention thus needs to be paid to avoid contamination.
D . P r i c e T r e n d s
1 . N a t u r a l H o n e y
In recent years, there has been a trend for the worldwide prices of natural honey to rise as it
has been in relatively short supply, although prices came down in 1998 when importers in
Japan made inventory adjustments. Its retail prices, however, have remained at stable levels
without being affected by the worldwide prices.
Although the production cost of domestically produced honey was 620 yen/kg in 1998, its
imported counterpart cost some 154 yen/kg (based on the data given in Japan Exports and
Imports). Natural honey imported from China, a large exporter, cost 141 yen/kg, but the
product originating in countries other than China cost 314 yen/kg.
2 . P r o p o l i s
Demand for propolis has been on the increase in recent years, and its pellet price has also
been rising. The pellet price varies from one source to another, and it is reported in the industry
that propolis pellets from Brazil cost on average from 15,000 yen to 20,000 yen per kg, whereas
those from China are priced in the range from 3,000 yen to 10,000 yen per kg.
There is a viewpoint in the industry that finished propolis ready for sale differs in potency
levels from one supplier to another, and this causes prices to vary. However, the product is still
new in the marketplace, and no drastic changes have been observed in its pricing as yet.
. P o s t - s a l e S e r v i c e
Natural honey is a long-lasting substance, and no post-sale service is needed as its consumersknow how to treat it.
Propolis is a product that is still new to consumers, and good descriptions are therefore neededregarding its use and efficacy at the time of sale. Accordingly, some suppliers give buyersguidance regarding dosage and methods of use. Other suppliers have in place consultationoffices, product display facilities and propolis membership systems.
. R e l a t e d P r o d u c t s
One area related to natural honey and propolis is that of bees. Importation of bees is subjectto the regulations stipulated in the domestic animal epidemic prevention law, and quarantine isrequired.
. P o i n t s t o b e C o n s i d e r e d i n P e r s o n a l I m p o r t s
Imports on a personal basis are not subject to the regulations in the Food Sanitation Lawexcept when the items thus imported are intended to be sold to third parties, or presented toothers.
A p p e n d i x
A . L i s t o f R e l a t e d O r g a n i z a t i o n s
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & 1-2-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Food Sanitation Division, Environmental Health (Regulations based on the Food Sanitation Bureau: Ext. 2448 Planning Division, Pharmaceutical and Medical 1-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3503-1711http:/www.mhw.go.jp/ The Ministry of International Trade & Weights & Measures Office, Machinery & Industry (Regulations based on the Information Industries Bureau: Ext.
Weights & Measures Law) 1-3-1 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3501-1511http://www.miti.go.jp/ Tokyo Metropolitan Government 2-8-1 Nishi-shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Regulations based on the Consumers’ Tel: 03-5321-1111Livelihood Law) National Honey Fair Trade Council 4-8-17 Nihon-bashi Honcho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (Industry’s Independent Regulations Tel: 03-3279-0893Preparation) Fax: 03-3291-8629http://group.lin.go.jp/bee/ 9-15-5 Takashima-daira, Itabashi-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3934-1604 Japan Honey Importers’ Council (Reviews & c/o S C Foods (Sumisho-Shokuhin) Co.
1-1 Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyada-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3219-3040 Japan Health Food & Nutrition Food 2-7-27 Sadohara-cho, Ichigaya, Shinjuku-ku, (Survey, study and promotion of health and Tel: 03-3268-3131 Fax: 03-3268-3135http://www.health-station.com/jhnfa/ Tel: 03-3384-8964Fax: 03-3384-8964http://www.propolis.or.jp/ 2-6-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3210-2121http://www.mitsubishi.co.jp/ 2-2-2 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi,Osaka-fuTel: 06-6223-5111http://www.nichimen.co.jp/index.asp 1-1 Kanda Nishiki-cho, Chiyoda-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3219-3030 1-2-1 Shibaura, Minato-ku, TokyoTel: 03-5440-8111Fax: 03-5440-6500http://www.kanematsu.co.jp/ 3-2-1 Imabashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka-fuTel: 06-6203-1112 Tel: 03-3875-1182Fax: 03-3871-2282http://www.sakura-honey.co.jp/ 3133-1 Maki, Anpachi-cho, Anpachi-gun, Gifu- 5-452 Shimoatsuzaki, Kuroiso-shi, Tochigi-ken Tel: 0287-62-8001Fax: 0287-62-8002http://www.nihonpropolis.co.jp/index.html 1-1 Sakurada-cho, Kono, Gifu-shi, Gifu-ken 2-2-8 Kyobashi, Chuo-ku, TokyoTel: 03-3271-1111http://www.meidi-ya.co.jp/ B . O t h e r r e f e r e n c e i n f o r m a t i o n
Reference materials on Beekeeping (Min. of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) Japan Exports and Imports (Min. of Finance) Customs Tariff Schedules of Japan (Customs Tariff Association of Japan) Handbook on Food Imports (Japan Food Sanitation Association) Customs Tariff Classifications (Customs Tariff Association of Japan) Honey Labeling (Consumers’ Livelihood Guidance, Livelihood Culture Bureau, Tokyo Fair Trade Practice in Honey Labeling (The National Honey Fair Trade Council) A Study of Promising Natural Pharmaceutical Products and Natural Substances, 1999 (Industrial Marketing Consultants Co., Ltd.) Internet Home Pages on Government Agencies, Industry Organizations, Importers, and

Source: http://cendoc.esan.edu.pe/paginas/infoalerta/Agroexportacion/textocompleto/honey.pdf


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