Food Buying Habits in the U.S., Japan, and China | Part 4

In our previous posts in this series, we have discussed the percentage of vegetarians in the U.S., Japan, and China, their buying preferences when compared to non-vegetarians, and how age and household income affect food purchasing decisions. In this post, we’d like to make an in-depth analysis of the types of ingredients people look at when buying food in these three countries. If you are just catching up, you can find our previous posts here:

Ingredients Always Checked When Purchasing Food

Daily Foods (Cheese, Eggs, Butter, Yogurt, Etc.)

When asking people what they check on the nutrition label when buying food, we received widely different answers. In Japan, the most important item checked is the number of calories, with ingredients checked far less often. On the other hand, respondents in China were quick to check protein content, sugar content, calories, and calcium levels. U.S. respondents were somewhat in the middle, but outranked Japan in every category.

Carbohydrates (Bread, Rice, Pasta, Etc.)

As in our previous category, when asked about carbohydrates, the area of most concern for Japan was the total number of calories. In the US and China, there was concern about a number of categories, but Chinese showed slightly more food consciousness than the Americans.

Meats and Fish

For this category, Japanese in general had a low level of interest, with over 60% of people saying that they had no particular concerns. On the other hand, interest in the overall protein content was high in both China and the U.S., and other elements generated about 20% of respondent interest.

Coffee and Tea (Whole Bean, Loose Leaf, Powdered)

While respondents in the U.S. and Japan showed overall little concern for this category of food, Chinese respondents were particularly interested in non-GMO choices for coffees and teas. In other categories, the U.S. showed similar concerns as in China, with sugar content and carbohydrate levels ranking relatively higher.

Survey Design

  • Target Countries: Japan, China, U.S.A.
  • Sample Size: Japan, 500; China and the U.S.A., 505
  • Methodology: Online Survey
  • Target: General Consumers
  • Sampling Period: August 22-30, 2022


Recently, we attended the FOODEX Hotel and Restaurant Exhibition in the Kansai region and met with a variety of food product manufacturers from across Japan as well as from overseas. During our talks, we found that most of the exhibitors are interested in expanding their sales channels overseas or in strengthening their exports to Japan. However, they face many challenges, including:

  • Differences in food culture
  • Climate and religious considerations (For example, taboo foods or beverages)
  • Uncertainty of local needs
  • Not understanding the potential interest in Japanese products or foodstuffs
  • Differences in the costs of living between countries
  • Deciding whether localizing packaging is necessary or not

These challenges reminded us of the value that global market research can provide. By conducting global market research through companies like Koeeru, manufacturers would be able to confirm target demographics and sales data in advance, using such information for marketing or for branding.

If you are interested in conducting you own research, please feel free to contact us.

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