TOKYO – Latin America is looking to enter the Japanese market with its “superfoods” – products with high nutritional value such as Peruvian quinoa or Brazil’s açaí – on display at Foodex 2018, the biggest food exhibition in Asia which kicked off in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The exhibition, expected to be visited by around 85,000 people until it closes on Friday, hosts 3,466 companies from 83 countries displaying their products in its 43rd edition, including dozens of businesses from 11 Latin American countries.
“Humans want to live longer and above all, live better with a better quality of life,” Gustavo Pereda, head of Peruvian company Intermesa Agroindustrial – which exports quinoa, chia seeds and other grains to Japan – told EFE.
Quinoa, a traditional Peruvian breakfast, has become a very popular food for vegetarians and those looking to reduce their meat consumption due to its high-protein and energy levels.
“It’s a great breakfast with sugar and a great meal with salt,” Pereda joked when asked about what is the best way to eat this Andean delicacy, which is now being used in products such as cookies and pasta.
Another Peruvian firm – Machu Picchu Foods, a market leader in the cocoa trade – has used the superfood boom to develop its marketing strategy.
The company has combined cocoa products, full of antioxidants, with other healthy foods such as maca, quinoa and chia seeds.
“Cocoa has healthy fats and antioxidants,” Diego Relva, a company executive told EFE, although he added that eating chocolate with less than 70 percent cocoa content is not advisable.
Argentinian companies are marketing some of their lesser known products in Foodex this year: chia and sesame, with the latter proving particularly popular in Japan.
“Chia seeds are very good for health and even though they are of Aztec origin, they are mainly produced in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, which cover 90 percent of the market,” said Augusto Nicolini, from the company Lartirigoyen.
Brazil’s pavilion at Foodex is exhibiting açaí, a wild palm which produces fruit that forms an essential part of indigenous diets in areas along the Amazon River and is now becoming a worldwide breakfast trend.