PB Products Win Popularity in Japan


     I found an interesting article on food of private brand in the newspaper this morning. According to the article, it seems that food of private brand (private label) has become popular in Japan recently. I’m trying to translate the article into English.

     What people buy at grocery stores has changed dramatically since that day. “I don’t buy processed food anymore because I don’t know what include in it,” said an office worker, who is in her 30’s and a mother of a little girl. She hasn’t bought frozen food since the “gyoza shock”, which was an incident that some Japanese people fell ill after biting some gyoza – dumplings made in China last January. It was come to light that those dumplings were tainted with insecticides later.

     She puts vegetables into her shopping basket instead. Organic vegetables, which have the source properly, are comparatively high price, but she chooses them. She used to buy dumplings before, she’s, however, made at home without buying processed ones since the incident. Yet she’s afraid and says, “Other vegetables as ingredients may be also tainted with insecticides. Probably I have other extra additives. It could be worse…” The gyoza shock made consumers defensive strongly. Their safe taste is forcing up prices of food, and which bears on husbandry.

     At Ito-Yokado, Japanese general merchandize store affiliated to SEVEN and i Holdings, the sales of frozen dumplings dropped down last February after the incident, while they got an increase in sales of 50% for ingredients of dumpling. They say, “Consumers want to have security and cooking at home is gradually taking root.”

     One of methods for practicing economy is using PB (private brand: private label). Merchandise of PB is usually cheaper than ones of national brands because they can hold down the cost of advertisement and development. “I always buy something of PB as they are cheaper.” said an office worker in his 30’s. He says he is a fan of “Top Value”, which is PB of AEON Co., Ltd, which is the largest retailer in Asia, and likes its retort pouch curry for 88 yen. The sale of PB of AEON was 27billion last year, which was a 20% increase. 

     Uny Co., Ltd, a chain of supermarkets in mainly Chubu area, Japan, which has a PB named e-price, developed a new private brand “UUCS” with its subsidiaries such as U-Store and Circle K Sunkus and started selling 29 items of snacks and bread in April. Those packages have names of famous Japanese brands that product them, and which is a strategy to appeal to consumers.

     We cannot say PB will safe and cheap forever. You know those Chinese dumplings were also PB of Co-op. Consumers don’t choose things by only their cost anymore.

     The other day, I saw many things of “Top Value”, which is PB of AEON, at Daiei, which has supported by AEON and other companies recently. Those PB products were put at the main aisles and appealed to customers. And I went to nearby Uny yesterday, where they also sold many PB products. I bought some of them: ramen, sesame seeds, sesame oils, and ketchup. They were definitely cheaper than the same things produced by national brands. Of course, I checked the sources and what were included before buying. As the article says, consumers don’t buy it because of its cheap price, I think. We should realize what to buy without being controlled by the mass media.


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