Japanese Retailers Shift Focus to Healthy Options

In Japan, convenience stores now stock foods with fewer additives and more veggies.

April 23, 2018

TOKYO – Japanese convenience stores are stocking more healthful bento meals, veggie-heavy prepared foods and food products fewer additives as part of an increased focus on healthier options, the Japan Times reports. Convenience stores are creating healthier meals to capture a growing senior popular and double-income families wanting more prepared foods.

Last month, Seven-Eleven Japan Co. began labeling products that adhere to the company’s health standards, such as having at least half the daily recommended servings of vegetables. Right now, the label is on 10 products, such as onigiri rice balls, but more will be added in the future.

Lawson Inc., which already has noodles, bento and other foods chockful of veggies, already has a commitment to sourcing and freshness for its croquette ingredients and deep-fried horse mackerel. Meanwhile, FamilyMart Co. recently launched a sandwich line with whole-wheat bread. FamilyMart said it wants to increase the number of healthy products twofold by the end of this fiscal year.

Retailers are also paying attention to artificial flavorings and coloring, with convenience stores getting rid of artificial coloring and preservatives in many products. For example, both Lawson and Seven-Eleven Japan no longer use artificial yeast in breads, while FamilyMart now leaves phosphate out of its sandwiches.