Sake Market and Industry Insights

Sake Export Market Statistics: Full Overview 2021

The Japanese alcohol market has seen a record year in 2021 and the exports in particular increased drastically. This growth in Japanese alcohol exports is mainly driven by strong exports of Japanese whiskey and Japanese sake. 

Sake Export Market Statistics: Full Overview 2021

Written by

Sakura Sake Shop

October 3, 2022

5

min read

Sake Market and Industry Insights

Sake Export Market Statistics: Full Overview 2021

The Japanese alcohol market has seen a record year in 2021 and the exports in particular increased drastically. This growth in Japanese alcohol exports is mainly driven by strong exports of Japanese whiskey and Japanese sake. 

Written by

Sakura Sake Shop

October 3, 2022

5

min read

Sake export statistics 2023 (Updated)

The Japanese alcohol market has seen a record year in 2021 and the exports in particular increased drastically. This growth in Japanese alcohol exports is mainly driven by strong exports of Japanese whiskey and Japanese sake. 

  • The export market of Japanese alcohol grew by 38% from 71 billion yen in 2020 to over 114.7 billion yen in 2021. The 3 top categories that were exported were whiskey, sake, and liquors.
  • Sake exports reached a new record high of 40.2 billion yen in value (66% increase) and 32,052㎘ in volume (47% increase). The average price per liter of sake grew from 1109 yen in 2020 to 1254 yen in 2021.
  • The top 3 sake markets are still China, the USA and Hong Kong accounting for almost 75% of the whole sake market. France is the largest European sake market (1.2% of total market).

Japanese Alcohol Export Market Size

After the COVID outbreak in 2020 and oversea relaxation of the COVD countermeasures, the export market of Japanese alcohols saw a record year in 2021. The total export market grew from 71 billion yen in 2020 to 114.7 billion yen in 2021, with an impressive annual growth rate of 38%.

The main factors for this growth are the relaxing market conditions after the COVID pandemic and the increasing popularity of Japanese food & culture across the globe. The supporting initiatives like subsidies or matchmaking services by the National Tax Agency among others also played a role in the growth story of Japanese alcoholic beverages.

The top 3 categories are whiskey, sake, and liquors. It was just in 2020 when for the first time whiskey exports surpassed sake exports. Until 2019 sake was the number one exported alcoholic beverage from Japan.

Now the whiskey exports contributed 46,152,000,000 JPY, whereas the sake exports only contributed 40,178,000,000 JPY to the whole export market. Both categories saw significant growth since the pandemic hit in 2020. Whiskey exports are up over 70% and sake exports swell over 66%. As the third biggest export category liquors with a cumulative value of 12,069,000,000 JPY were exported in 2021.

Total Sake Exports

Looking only at the sake export statistics, the exported sake volume declined for two years in 2019 and 2020 to the COVID outbreak and the market closures including the supply chain issues, while the overall export value still slightly increased during the pandemic.

Sake exports in 2021 from Japan to international markets totaled approximately 40.2 billion yen in value and 32,052㎘ in quantity, also a record high. This is an increase of 66% in value from 24.1 billion yen in 2021. The quantity of exported sake increased even by over 47% from 21,760㎘.

Sake Export Volume (kl) and Amount (Million JPY) from 2000 to 2021
Sake Export Volume (kl) and Amount (Million JPY) from 2000 to 2021

Also, the average price per liter has also increased from 1109 yen in 2020 to 1254 yen in 2021. There might be some price increases associated with inflation, but this increase of 13% indicates that more and more higher-priced sake bottles are consumed abroad. Moreover, the average price has doubled in just a decade, from just 626 yen back in 2011.

Top Sake Importing Countries

The biggest region for Japanese sake is Asia. In terms of exports by region, while exports to Asia make up two-thirds, North America accounts for over 25.6%. The rest is split into West Europe 5.2% and the rest of the world 3.7%.

Sake export volume breakdown by country 2021
Sake export volume breakdown by country 2021

On the country level, the biggest markets for Japanese sake are China, the USA, and Hong Kong, followed by Singapore and Taiwan. By value, the top 3 markets account for almost 75% of the whole sake market. 

The largest European sake market is France with over 490 million yen (about 1.2% of the total market) in value imported. The French market is also one of the fastest growing markets with an increase in 2021 of over 230% compared to last year's period.

Sake export amount breakdown by country 2021
Sake export amount breakdown by country 2021

Interestingly, the average price per liter is very much different depending on the market. The most expensive sake is imported to Macau with over 5069 yen per liter exported. Hong Kong and Singapore follow with 2870 yen and 1960 yen per liter respectively. Sake that is shipped to the USA only trades at 1087 yen per liter and sake that is exported to France is valued on average at 1117 yen per liter.

Top Export Ports of Sake

By port, the Port of Kobe, home to the sake brewery region Nada in the Hyogo Prefecture, leads the nation in both value and volume, followed by the Ports of Tokyo and Yokohama. The top 3 ports, which are all maritime ports, handled over 75% of the total sake exports. The majority of the sake exports are transported via ocean freight.

Top 10 ports for exporting Japanese sake
Top 10 ports for exporting Japanese sake

The Narita Airport is the main international airport in Japan and handles only 0.8% of the exported sake by volume. Nevertheless, the average price per liter that went through air freight at Narita Airport was 8474 yen (almost 7 times the overall average), resulting in it being the 5th largest port with a 5.3% market share (by value). This indicates that a lot of the expensive sake bottles are sent abroad via air freight.

Conclusion and Outlook for 2022

Japanese alcohol in general is a growth category in international markets. Especially, Japanese whiskey and sake play a large contribution to the overall exports. With the increasing popularity of Japanese culture and food, there is surely more growth to be expected in the next decade.

Due to the cheap yen and opening markets, it is likely that the growth of sake exports continues in 2022 and beyond. It would be not surprising if the total exports surpass the 45 billion yen mark next year. The average price per liter is also expected to keep on rising with the growing maturity of the market. Consumers abroad are looking more and more for quality and premium sake options.

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