The Japanese Curry Market by the Numbers
When I chat about Japanese curry with Americans, I often hear comments and questions like, “Why do Japanese people love curry rice so much?”; “I don’t believe the curry market in Japan is really that big”; or “How the heck did curry become Japan’s most beloved comfort food?” I understand their doubts, because curry is not a native Japanese food. But think about pizza in the U.S.: the classic Italian dish is now one of the most beloved comfort foods in this country, and its market is huge. Today, I’d like to bring up some data that proves how much the Japanese love curry and how big the Japanese curry rice market is.
By the numbers
Let me use the numbers shown in a book, The Evolution of the Japanese Curry, written by Mr. Jinsuke Mizuno. He is a leading curry expert in Japan and a food writer who has published over 40 books about curries and spices. The first number is 10 billion plates. That’s the number of curry dishes Japanese natives eat per year. It was deduced by S&B Foods from the amount of annual consumption of curry powder (14,878 tons) divided by average amount of curry powder used for one curry dish (1.5 grams). S&B Foods, a premier curry product manufacturer, also provided data illustrating how many times each Japanese resident enjoys curry per year—once every 2 weeks at home, 30 times for lunch, and 50 times at restaurants. That’s once a week!
The curry restaurant business in Japan
Other numbers from the book show the economy of scale of the curry restaurant business in Japan. 150 billion yen ($1.58 billion) is the market size deducted by by Fuji Keizai, a market research company. It also counted 4,200 Japanese curry restaurants located in Japan in 2016. If other types of curry restaurants, like Thai curry and Indian curry, are combined, the number grows to 6,000. With that, Fuji Keizai speculated that the curry restaurant business would be worth close to 300 billion yen ($3.15 billion). Japan is a small country, almost the size of State of California, but the volume of the curry restaurant business there is tremendous. How crazy is that? So, I see a lot of potential of the curry business in the U.S. market.
Next time, I will share some of our essential new moves in the industry after the outbreak of this pandemic. Until then, enjoy eating good food and stay genki!
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About The Author:
Tomoko Omori was born and raised in Japan. She came to the USA alone to become an actress, where she received an AA degree from college majoring in Drama. She received a scholarship to study music at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC.
After working for TV broadcasting and a publishing company, today, Tomoko is the CEO of Go! Go! Curry! America, a grab-and-go Japanese comfort food restaurant franchise. There are over 75 locations in Japan, and 11 in the USA. She says, “Our mission is to serve our tasty curry nationwide in the USA and Canada to enrich the lives of our customers, employees, franchise owners and the communities we serve. Our vision is to create millions of satisfied customers, contented tummies and miles and miles of smiles for everyone!” Tomoko received the Nikkei BP Woman of the year award in 2015.