Japanese and Chinese food has become quite a trend since the beginning of the 2000s in Brazil. In this article, we will take a look at the Japanese and Chinese Food Market In Brazil.
Japanese and Chinese immigrants coming to Brazil at the beginning of the 20th century had a difficult time getting used to Brazilian cuisine as theirs was significantly different in terms of flavours and ingredients. For example, Brazilians tend to eat more bovine meat than both the Chinese and Japanese, who prefer to eat healthier food, like vegetables and fruits.
In order to overcome these struggles, the Japanese and Chinese, when migrating to Brazilian cities, started opening restaurants where they served their native food. Thus, Japanese and Chinese food starting getting popular, especially in São Paulo, where more than 420.000 immigrants live. The 2010 Census stated that throughout Brazil there were more than 2 million people who considered themselves Japanese, Chinese or descendants thereof.
It was in the 1990s that Japanese and Chinese food started becoming popular in Brazil, mainly because of its healthy and tasty ingredients. Since then, this market has grown at an impressive rate, accounting for over BRL 411 million in 2013 - a growth of 9% when compared to 2012. This sector is expected to grow around 17% and reach BRL 500 million by the end of 2014. The sector of Japanese and Chinese food franchises is the most profitable in the market, with 28 different franchise networks responsible for more than 480 franchises throughout Brazil. There was a growth of approximately 700% in the number of Japanese and Chinese restaurants from 2003 to 2013, making up for more than 2.000 restaurants in Brazil.
In addition to this, the average bill in Japanese and Chinese restaurants is the largest of all the food sectors, according to ABF, the Brazilian Food Company. Totalling BRL 37,37 per sale, Japanese and Chinese food restaurants earn much more per sale than restaurants selling sandwiches - BRL 12,85 - and pizzerias - BRL 22,15.
Despite the impressive numbers, it is expected that they will grow even more over the coming years. In spite of its relative success in big cities, there are few or no Japanese or Chinese restaurants outside of the big cities, concentrating mainly in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Also, due to the growth in income of the Brazilian population and the growing number of people that have no time to cook at home, Brazilians are spending almost 30% of their income eating out. It is a little more than half of what Americans spend - 50% of their income - but this number is expected to be attained by 2020.
As mentioned before, the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the areas where Japanese and Chinese food is consumed the most in Brazil. But due to its large population of immigrants, São Paulo definitely has the upper hand and is responsible for daily production of over 400.000 pieces of sushi and has more Japanese and Chinese restaurants than churrascarias. There are more than 600 Japanese and Chinese restaurants in São Paulo.
The consumption of Japanese and Chinese food spread rapidly in the big cities, and it is not difficult to find ingredients for the preparation of Japanese and Chinese dishes in the largest supermarket chains, although there is still a limited selection of these. It is also common to find some specialty stores selling only Japanese and Chinese food.
Since there are few franchising networks in Brazil, most of them own a large number of restaurants, focused mainly in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Grupo Ornatus is one of the main players in this market, owning more than 70 restaurants across 10 Brazilian states, divided into their three brands: Jin Jin Wok, Jin Jin Sushi and Little Tokyo.
Another main player in the Japanese and Chinese food market is Makis Place, possessing more than 80 restaurants in Brazil. But, the biggest player in this market is TrendFoods, owner of Gendai and China in Box, owning more than 220 restaurants in Brazil.
Peculiarities of the Brazilian market
The Japanese and Chinese food market in Brazil presents some peculiarities. First of all, it is safe to say that franchised restaurants are most popular, mainly due to larger marketing investment and because they tend to bring Japanese and Chinese traditional meals closer to Brazilian palates. For example, the use of cream cheese and tropical fruits in the making of sushi and temaki and the use of typically Brazilian vegetables in Chinese recipes.