The Yomiuri ShimbunConvenience stores’ presence in the delicatessen market is growing. With their close proximity to homes and increased lineup of products, convenience stores have been attracting customers who would otherwise have visited supermarkets and deli specialty shops.
Sales of deli products are expected to grow due to their convenience for the rising numbers of working women and elderly households. Consequently, competition is becoming fiercer.
Lawson Inc. has nearly doubled the number of soups available at its outlets compared to 2015. There are now nine kinds, and they are highly popular among women in winter.
In March last year, Lawson started cutting the prices of its own-brand deli products by 10 percent at the end of each month.
These moves are part of Lawson’s efforts to distinguish its deli products from those of rival convenience store chains.
Lawson President Sadanobu Takemasu said, “We would like to give more of an incentive to consumers to visit our stores by introducing products particular to our chain.”
In September last year, FamilyMart Co. increased its selection of dishes, mainly sides such as salads and simmered foods, by about 30 percent compared to the year before.
In the same month, Seven-Eleven Japan Co. increased the number of shrimps in the topping of its gratin and doria rice gratin dishes with an eye on autumn and winter sales. The chain also improved the white sauce used in its products.
According to the Japan Ready-made Meal Association, the deli market in 2015 is estimated to have totaled about ¥9.59 trillion — a 20 percent increase over five years ago.
Within that figure, convenience stores accounted for about ¥2.95 trillion — a 40 percent increase compared to five years ago. It appears that convenience store sales were larger than at stores specializing in deli products.
An industry source said: “In addition to there being more [convenience] stores, the flavors and other features [of their deli products] have improved. Sales [of deli products] at convenience stores will continue to grow.”
Supermarket chains have made efforts to exploit potential demand for deli products. For example, some have started selling more products using locally produced ingredients and seasonings or have expanded eat-in corners where customers can have just-prepared deli foods.