A market closely linked to lifestyles
These skyrocketing sales can be explained by the increase in the number of dual-income households: with both partners working, there is much less time for cooking, and bringing home bentos or ready-made dishes is a much more convenient solution. It helps to minimize the amount of time spent eating and to avoid the awful chore of doing the dishes.
Stores specialising in ready-to-eat take-out dishes are seeing their sales climb steadily. According to the Japan Ready-Made Meal Association, the foodservice sector accounted for 35.6% of household food and beverage spending in 2016. Today, restaurants are facing increasing competition from other types of sales outlets, such as grocery shops and supermarkets, which are working hard to keep up with growing consumer demand.
Market opportunities abound for mass retail
The Lawson retail chain is aiming to ramp up its number of stores with facilities for preparing bentos and other take-out fare to 6,000 by the end of 2018, a 40% increase compared to 2017. Family Mart, a Japanese convenience store franchise chain, is set to invest ¥35 billion between now and February 2020 in order to offer a deli service, including dishes prepared right inside its stores.
Supermarkets are also expanding their range. Since 2017, certain Summit stores have been preparing ready-to-eat meals up until 9:00 pm every day. As the products have been selling well, the chain has decided to offer this service at all of its stores.
According to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Work and Social Affairs, the number of dual-income households stood at 11.88 million in 2017, rising for the 6th straight year. The nakashoku market looks set to continue growing, and the competition is only just heating up!