A New Japanese Trade Fair: Organic Lifestyle EXPO (OLE)

The first event is scheduled for November 2016 and supported by many presentations and seminars held nationwide. Our first presentation and press conference was held on 8th December and was attended by over 150 participants including supporters and helpers. This is a large number for an organic event and reflects the growing interest in this topic among a wide range of stakeholders, media and consumers.

Nowadays the interest and demand for natural and organic products is continuously growing among Japanese consumers. This applies not only to food and beverages but also to non-food products, such as cosmetics, body care products, textiles, detergents and other necessities for daily life.

Of course, distributors and retailers have noticed this trend. Consequently, they are offering a wider variety of natural and organic merchandize, domestic products (mainly fruits, vegetables and traditional Japanese products) and many imported processed products.

In the past, natural and organic products were mainly available at small specialized shops and large home-delivery companies, among them Daichi Momoru-kai, Oisix, Radish Boya and Seikyu/PAL System. For the average/general consumer it was rather difficult to find such products in their neighborhood supermarket.

As earlier in many Western and some Asian countries also in Japan a considerable volume of organic trade has already shifted from specialized retailers and home delivery distributors to supermarkets. This trend continues and will change even more, because large supermarket chains, among them AEON und Natural Lawson, are offering more natural and organic products.

Probably more retailers (shops and e-business) will follow this trend to stay competitive Fukushimaya, a medium-sized distributor/retailer with 10 supermarkets, restaurants and other outlets is focusing on high-quality local natural and organic products and is doing very well. The number of medium-sized and small regional supermarkets offering more natural and organic products is also growing. This development is welcomed by regional farmers, processors and consumers and also in line with the governmental policy to revitalize the regions outside the big cities.

As a result of this trend and the growing demand importers, distributors and their customers are looking for new suppliers in Japan and even more so abroad. Sourcing and ordering organic products in the required variety and quantity is much more difficult than for conventional products.

The internet is a useful tool for finding all sorts of information, but often not effective or sufficient for conducting business transactions. For this purpose direct, preferably face-to-face contacts are necessary. An ideal platform is a professional, B2B orientated trade show, such as the new Organic Lifestyle EXPO (OLE).

Natural and organic products have already been exhibited for many years at major Japanese trade shows, such as FOODEX and SMTS, and smaller fairs, such as BioFach Japan. However, at least by the experience of many foreign exhibitors, the actual results in terms of conducted business were limited and often not satisfactory. So, the big question is: What is missing and what should and can be improved?

Based on this current situation, new trends and their own experience with the market and trade shows, the organizers of OLE have developed a concept which takes careful consideration of the Japanese market for both natural and certified organic products and meets the interest and demand of all participants: business people, movements and stakeholders and last but not least end-consumers. The key word is business, but different from B2B trade shows in Western countries the end-consumers must be integrated (not shut out) because ultimately they decide which products are really wanted and sell well!

The OLE concept and content and how it will lead to success are explained in detail on our websites, and we welcome your comments and questions.

More and continuously updated information can be found in GON “PROJECTS” and other sections and on http://ofj.or.jp/en/