Japan Foods – Brazil
Japan Foods is an event sponsored by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization), its main goal is to promote Japanese Food overseas, being held once in Viet Nam and India. Fortunately, 2010 was Brazil’s turn.
Brazil’s “Japan Foods” was not actually an event, it was a sort of market research where people could buy and try 32 products manufactured by 21 Japanese companies. There was also a restaurant where a chef showed people how to use the products on different Japanese recipes. Just to mention some of the products that were being sold: one could buy Eki Miso Shinshu (a liquid miso that does not need to be dissolved), Kagatsuru Umeshu (a plum liquor with sake), Onigiri Senbei (one of the most famous Japanese snacks you can find at the authentic Japanese konbini), Sakura Jam (self-explicative), Tivolina cookies (cookies for special ocasions, really famous in Japan, Korea and Taiwan), and Premium Sujahta Ice Cream (only available at the Japanese bullet trains, the shinkansen).
One could ask why to make such an event in country where Japanese food is already popular. After all, Brazil has the largest Japanese population living outside Japan and in São Paulo alone (the country’s largest city) you will find at about 1,000 Japanese restaurants and 100 stores specialized in Japanese food. Well, this event had a different approach: all the products had never been exported to Brazil so far. Besides, the event was being held from Feb 19 to Mar 10 in a supermarket located in Iguatemi Shopping Center, known as one of most expensive places in São Paulo. So, if you add 1+1 you’ll see that the focus was to bring somewhat exclusive products to the city’s richest people. As a matter of fact, not a single price was bellow BR$15,00 (at about ¥900 or USD 10.50); just bear in mind that the shinkansen ice cream, for example, is available in Japan for a third of this price. Expensive or not, I ended up going there to buy the less expesive stuff. ^^;; Bought the ice cream – which is indeed the best vanilla ice cream I’ve ever eaten, Tivolina cookies – was thinking on giving them to a certain someone on White Day but gave up when I read somewhere Tivolina is mainly a wedding gift, and Sakura Jam, which has a very unique taste and turned out being my favorite flavor of jam so far.
Even being a niche explorer event, I found the fact that JETRO brought it to Brazil very pleasant. Not only this, it was also a clever strategy too: With the local markets in Japan suffering with the economic downturn, one of the best alternatives for Japanese companies is indeed Brazil, with a large Japanese population and a growing middle class. Also, the more Japan makes business with Brazil, the better are the chances I can work as an intermediate between both countries. lol
Recently, one can find more and more Japanese goodies at the supermarkets around here. Even my neighborhood’s grocery store is selling Lotte’s Aloe Vera juice, and Lotte’s Custard cakes. Also, Ajinomoto Brazil is now distributing Calpis to some supermakets in São Paulo, another market research, I suppose.
It seems to me that Japanese food is getting more and more popular around here. ^_^ And what about your place?
I swear I’m not doing a market research myself, I’m just curious, really. lol
And guys, please remind me of writing about the history of Japanese food in Brazil too, I’ve got some material, just need the time to organize it into a post.
P.S.: Tivolina cookies ended up as a gift for mom and sis if you’re wondering about its fate. =P
P.S.2.: Catalog with the the event’s products is available here. (Portuguese only)
P.S.3.: If you’ve enjoyed this article you’re bound to like Shibuya246’s Combini Monday series.