Supermarkets in Japan saw YOY sales increase by 20 to 30 percent in March and April. Demand has been especially strong for wheat flour and wheat cooking mixes, vanilla extracts, pastas and sauces, and sweet syrups, per Toyo Economic.
A recent USDA GAIN report noted other products that have seen an uptick in demand, including natto (fermented soybeans), instant noodles, vegetables with longer shelf lives, animal proteins that can be frozen, and typical frozen foods. Increased demand for these products in the food retail sector shows the shift in consumer spend away from the restaurant level.
Food retailers are also expanding delivery services via online shopping and smartphone integration and have developed ready-to-eat meal products to fit this category. Ready-to-eat meal product sales have been increasing in every retail area, per USDA.
The U.S. is the largest foreign supplier of food and agricultural products to Japan. A U.S. wheat exporter noted that there have been a few minor shipping delays due to COVID-19 but nothing else, per AgInfo. Strong Japanese demand is key to supporting U.S. wheat and other commodity prices.