Full flavor in little packages: More rice is being sold in reduced quantities for smaller households

JIJI

The marketing strategy of selling rice in small volumes has recently seen success in Japan on the back of a rise in the number of one-person households and small families.

Rice contained in 5 kilogram packages, which used to be the main size, is unpopular among these households because the products are expensive and the quantities too large.

To satisfy low-volume demand, companies have started selling rice in plastic bottles or by the measure.

Niigata and Iwate prefectures and other major rice-producing areas in Japan have developed new brands of rice. While such new rice brands, with added value, are relatively expensive, they can be sold at affordable prices if they are marketed in small amounts, industry sources said.

According to major rice wholesaler Kitoku Shinryo Co., shipments of rice in 5kg packages have been flat.

By contrast, those of rice in 2kg packages are now some 30 percent higher than levels seen five years ago.

The Tokyo-based company’s business strategy division, which was set up last March, is working to develop low-volume products.

Pebora sells various brand rice in 300 gram plastic bottles, mainly for ¥400 to ¥500 each. The firm is affiliated with rice and vegetable wholesaler Kawacho, which is based in the town of Oirase, Aomori Prefecture.

The bottled rice is also available online, and is increasingly popular as gifts. The company aims to sell 150,000 bottles this year, up threefold from 2016.

“We want our customers to choose their favorite rice and also enjoy the difference in taste,” said Pebora President Seiko Kawamura.

At its flagship store in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district, Akomeya Tokyo, sells rice by the kilogram.

That allows customers to select their favorite rice from 26 brands from across the country, with prices starting at some ¥800 per kilogram.

The retailer operates under the wing of Sazaby League Ltd.

“We hope customers can find rice that corresponds to their tastes at our outlets,” a company official said.