Sake branding panel meets on strategy to boost exports

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The National Tax Agency on Monday held the first meeting of its panel of experts to discuss a branding strategy for sake to boost the country’s exports of the rice wine.

Japan’s sake exports have hit a record high for nine straight years. An effective branding strategy is needed for delivering added value to sake for further growth in exports at a time when attention is increasingly paid to not only ingredients and rice polishing rate but also specific sake products that go well with specific cuisine, passions of sake producers and the histories of sake brewers, informed sources said.

Former professional soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata, who is working to spread the attractions of sake abroad as part of his current activities, joined the day’s meeting of the panel as a guest.

The panel is headed by Takeo Koizumi, professor emeritus at the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Its members also include Shinya Tasaki, head of the Japan Sommelier Association and the presidents of brewers including Kokuryu Sake Brewing Corp. in Fukui Prefecture. It plans to compile an interim report on policy recommendations in December at the earliest.

At the meeting, Nakata, who has played on the men’s national soccer team, underlined the importance of sake being transported at low temperatures.

Sake exports would increase sharply “if products with the same quality as that for the Japanese market are offered in overseas markets,” he said. “Even if best-quality sake is made, the [size of the] market will not change unless they are transported under proper conditions.”

According to trade statistics from the Finance Ministry, Japan’s sake exports totaled some ¥22.2 billion in 2018. The United States was the biggest importer, followed by Hong Kong, China and South Korea.Speech

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