Before You Start:
1.Before considering export, please consider the following factors: If your company has the production capacity to commit to the export market. If your company has the financial and non-financial (staff, time, etc.) resources to actively support your exported product(s). If your company has the ability to tailor your product‘s packaging and ingredients to meet foreign import regulations, food safety standards, and cultural preferences. If your company has the necessary knowledge to ship overseas such as being able to identify and select international freight forwarders, temperature management, and other factors. If your company has the ability to navigate export payment mechanisms, such as developing and negotiating letters of credit.
Product and Market:
2.Determine whether import of your product is allowed by Japanese food regulation. Because of strict Japanese regulations, there are many agricultural products that are prohibited for import from the U.S. to Japan. Contact an ATO Japan office for a list of prohibited items. For plant or animal health information, contact your local APHIS office at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/area_offices/. If the product contains meat or meat products, please refer to the Food Safety Inspection Service Export Library: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations/Japan_Requirements/index.asp. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations/Export_Checklist/index.asp.
3.Perform Some Basic Market Research: The Market Assessment Checklist is an effective tool to organize and evaluate your market and product: http://www.fas.usda.gov/agx/market_research/Market_Assessment_Checklist.pdf Determine whether there is demand for your product and what your target market will be. Determine whether your product is price competitive against Japanese and other producers, keeping in mind transportation costs as well as modification costs. Determine the comparative advantage of your products. Potential customers need to be convinced of the merit of using your products. Some examples are price savings, higher quality, higher value-added, or more convenient packaging. ATO Japan offers a series of services to assist you. You should also contact your regional trade group:
Review Japanese food regulations to determine if your product(s) comply with or need to be altered to fit local laws regarding additives, residue levels, and processing procedures. Also understand regulations in terms of weight, size, and labeling. JETRO‘s Handbook for Agricultural and Fishery Products Import Regulations is a helpful tool: http://www.jetro.go.jp/en/reports/regulations/pdf/agri2009e_1007.pdf.
Develop an Export Action Plan:
4.Once you have collected the general market, products, and regulatory information, begin the process of creating an export action plan. This plan will be instrumental in helping distributors and buyers see your vision. Keep in mind that many portions of this plan will change after personal interaction with the market or as more information