• Kyodo

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Food and drink manufacturers from 15 prefectures showed off their wares Monday at the first-ever Japanese Food and Drink Showcase and Masterclass in Sydney.

Sponsored by the Japanese External Trade Organization, the expo was a chance for Japanese exporters to network with Australian restaurateurs.

“Although Australians already have great interest in Japanese food, there’s still room to grow,” said Hiroyuki Nakazato, director of JETRO’s Sydney office. “We want to be able to show off the ‘secure, safe, (and) healthy’ food of Japan.”

Australia was the ninth-largest importer of Japanese agricultural and food products in 2016, spending 139 million Australian dollars ($111 million).

While familiar favorites such as curry spices and sake garnered plenty of interest, products tapping into growing Australian food trends like vegan and gluten-free options were particularly popular.

One of these was vegan-friendly Samurai Ramen, made by Higashimaru Co. based in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Similarly, gluten-free pasta made by Ogata Village Akitakomachi Rice Producers Co. in Akita Prefecture, is made with germinated brown rice instead of wheat, making it a suitable option for people who can’t eat gluten, such as those with celiac disease.

“Genetically modified foods are quite common overseas, so I hope people will enjoy our pasta made from safe Japanese rice,” said the company’s business development manager, Takayuki Kato.

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