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Why Japan is a ripe market for New Zealand agritech businesses

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By techweek Techweek

11 June 2021

Why Japan is ripe NZTE blog 950x500

Author: Asia Team, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

The agritech market in Japan is worth almost $3 billion. Discover what agritech solutions the country is looking for, how to take advantage of government initiatives and how to join a virtual business trip with NZTE.

Japan is known for some high-quality agricultural produce such as top-grade wagyu beef, Koshihikari rice and sweet Fuji apples. However, its agricultural sector has been slowing over the years.Research has uncovered a $2.6 billion agritech market in Japan – ripe for New Zealand agritech businesses keen on entering the market. In this webinar, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Agritech NZ explore the opportunity in detail.

Japan's agricultural landscape

Several key trends shaping Japan’s agricultural landscape provide an impetus for agritech adoption. They are:
  • Shift in culinary preference from rice-based diets to wheat
  • Stronger demand for vegetables, fruits, livestock and dairy. This has led to growth in recent years
  • Japan's food self-sufficiency rate was a record low of 38% in 2018, meaning that most food is imported. This means farmers have problems sustaining domestic demand
  • Japanese Government initiatives to double production in high value segments – eg. Wagyu beef, and support farming in specific regions for export purposes.

Challenges to the sector

  • Labour shortage and ageing population
  • Smaller-scale farming operations (around 2ha) centred on traditional farming practices
  • Limited arable land for farming – opportunity for agritech to maximise yield.

Areas for agritech solutions

Areas for agritech solutions


A key success factor in selling to this sector is to ensure precision farming solutions are paired well with smart farming technologies that have competitive AI algorithms and cloud computing to derive insights from data gathered. Solutions should also leverage alternative farming techniques such as vertical farming based on aquaponics and hydroponics.

Entry barriers

entry barriers

3 tips for market success

  1. Ensure that your agritech solutions can support smaller scale growers.
  2. Align your solutions with government directives. Tailor your business strategy to focus on high value segments which the Japanese Government is focused on, such as growing exports of Wagyu production, dairy and livestock.
  3. Engage local stakeholders, especially the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA), as they hold significant influence in the sector. Look at partnering and collaborating with them so that you have localisation support from the get-go. JAs also provide access to agritech players who have access to key distribution channels.

Commercial opportunities for agritech

Makoto Kinjo, director of ANZCO Foods Japan, explains the commercial opportunities for agritech, which lie in meat and dairy:

There is growing interest in ‘grass-fed’ farming in Japan, driven by the shift towards 

 and animal welfare. At the same time, individual and corporate farmers and local government have a need to efficiently use idle farmland in various parts of the country.

Despite these push and pull factors, there is a lack of expertise in the field, little government funding and few academic institutions providing research in this field.

So far, the Hokkaido Dairy Project driven by Fonterra and the Hokkaido Sheep Project by ANZCO Foods, Farmage and the Hokkaido government, are some early-stage initiatives to bridge technical cooperation between New Zealand and Hokkaido farmers.

Japan's farming sector also lacks soil and pasture management solutions. Things like remote sensing technology, measurement of soil nutrient status, soil mapping and irrigation systems are commonly used in New Zealand and so your solution will be welcomed in-market.

Many farmers also do not practise livestock management and health, animal husbandry, parasite management and do not have a good on-farm quality assurance system. New Zealand agritech businesses can provide their solutions in these areas to help commercialise pasture-based farming of livestock.

Japanese Government support for agritech

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan has a 

 programme, launched in 2016, to activate the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food industries.

Dr Takuya Sato spoke about how Japan and New Zealand can collaborate through this programme. Under the FKII, there have been many technologies developed that can be shared with New Zealand to address the challenges in agriculture it is facing.

New Zealand agritech companies can join an existing research & development (R&D) platform under FKII and have discussions with Japanese companies, universities and scientists, or establish a new research group where New Zealand universities, companies and scientists can work on new areas for future collaboration.

Next steps for New Zealand businesses

If you are keen on exploring further opportunities in Japan, NZTE has an upcoming virtual business trip with a B2B business matching component, free for all Agritech NZ members and New Zealand companies.

Contact NZTE Tokyo Head of Business Development Manager Yoshifumi Imamura to express your interest.

Become an NZTE customer today.

NZTE is a Strategic Partner of Techweek2021



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