Japanese Ice Cream Sees Soaring Exports Across Asia Amid Record Summer Sales

by Alice

TOKYO – Japan’s ice cream industry continues to surge, buoyed by scorching temperatures and unprecedented exports to Taiwan and other key markets in Asia.

According to the Japan Ice Cream Association’s announcement on Monday, sales of the frozen delicacy climbed by 10% in fiscal 2023, reaching a new high of 608.2 billion yen ($3.85 billion USD). This marks the fourth consecutive year of record-breaking sales.


Last summer saw temperatures in Japan spike to 1.76 degrees Celsius above average, the highest recorded by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Forecasts suggest another sweltering summer ahead, prompting food producers to prepare for heightened consumer demand.


“I always try new flavors and textures when I see them,” shared a shopper in her twenties at an Inageya supermarket in Tokyo’s Nerima ward.

Morinaga & Co., a leading confections maker, struggled to meet demand last summer, reporting that production levels were sustained at unusually high rates since last autumn. Lotte and Ohayo Dairy Products are also gearing up for robust sales this year, with Lotte adjusting product release schedules to manage high demand effectively.

While ice pops like Lotte’s Coolish and Akagi Nyugyo’s GariGarikun series enjoyed a 20% sales increase in July 2023, richer, creamier options such as Haagen-Dazs Japan only saw a modest 2% growth, lagging behind the market average.

In addition to strong domestic sales, Japanese ice cream exports soared in fiscal 2023, climbing 16% in value to a record 7.8 billion yen. Volume-wise, exports surged by 10% to 9,689 tonnes, marking a significant increase from approximately 3,300 tonnes in fiscal 2014 and surpassing 10,000 tonnes in the calendar year 2023 for the first time.

Taiwan emerged as the largest export market, accounting for nearly one-third of total exports with a 30% increase in shipments last fiscal year. Mainland China, the third-largest market, also experienced substantial growth of nearly 20%.

Encouraged by strong export performance, companies like Meiji Holdings have expanded production locally, exemplified by the opening of a second ice cream factory in China in March.

The upward trajectory in export values was partly driven by two rounds of price hikes in 2023, as reported by the ice cream association.

“Japanese demand may face challenges ahead due to consumer purchasing power lagging behind inflation,” noted Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. “The focus now shifts to how manufacturers can expand into overseas markets.”

Amidst efforts to penetrate new markets, Imuraya Confectionery aims to secure a foothold in Malaysia by obtaining halal certification for its factory. The company recently launched a mochi ice cream flavored with durian, a tropical fruit popular in Southeast Asia, demonstrating optimism about future international growth.


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