Sake exports soared in 2022 due to China demand
Japan Sake and Shochu Makers Association (JSS), comprised of nearly 1,700 sake breweries, reported that the total value of sake exports in 2022 reached 47.492 billion yen, showing growth for the 13th consecutive year.
China was the largest export market for sake last year, accounting for 67.8% of the total value, followed by the US and Hong Kong. The growth rate of export value has exceeded the growth rate of volume, and the average export price per litre has more than doubled from a decade ago. This is largely due to the trend of premium sake in the high price range for overseas exports.
The leading country in terms of export value is China, with a total of approximately 14.16 billion yen, a significant increase of 137.8% compared to the previous year. Japanese sake is becoming increasingly popular in China as a high-end alcoholic beverage, particularly among the young and wealthy demographic.
The US is the top exporter in terms of volume, shipping 9,084 kilolitres (a 102.9% increase from the previous year). The second largest amount of exports is worth 10.93 billion yen.
In 2022, the export price of premium sake per litre continued to rise, following the trend from 2021.
Ten years ago, the export value was just 633 yen per litre, but in 2022, it more than doubled to 1,323 yen per litre. Currently, the export value surpasses 10% of the domestic shipment value, thanks to the resumption of economic activities and the reopening of Japanese restaurants.
Particularly in China, in 2021, the average export price per litre in China was 1,414 yen. However, in 2022, it rose to 1,917 yen, which marks a growth of 35.6%, the highest growth among the top countries.
On the other hand, Hong Kong had the highest average export price per litre, at 2,870 yen in 2021, which was reduced to 2,619 yen in 2022, a decrease of 8.8%.
In terms of future growth potential, the sake market in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand, is expanding rapidly. Europe is also seeing steady growth, with the export value in 2023 standing at 25.51 billion yen, which is a growth of 125.3% compared to last year.
According to JSS, it is taking steps to further promote the export of sake, including a partnership with the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) and participation in a young sommelier education programme in Malaysia.
The Association will also exhibit at global alcoholic beverages exhibitions in France and Germany with the aim of expanding its reach.
Additionally, the Association has become a certified agricultural, forestry and fishery products and food export promotion organization for sake, authentic shochu, and awamori, which will help to further promote exports.
The increased refrigerated transportation of sake has allowed for higher distribution while maintaining its quality, leading to the formation of a market that accepts sake as a high-end beverage outside of Japanese restaurants.