Japan (JAS)

The Organic Japanese Market

The latest figures show that the total volume of domestic and imported certified organic products sold in Japan was valued at over 150 billion yen (approx 1.9 billion AUS$) – an impressive figure that only represents about 1% of the total market for conventional food and beverages. However, the market for non-certified organic food, “food without agro-chemicals” and “healthy food” is estimated at around 600 billion yen (approx. 7.5 billion AUS$), a figure that better represents the healthy choices made by Japanese consumers.

Prior to the earthquake and the Fukushima incident last year, analysts predicted a moderate growth for certified organic food that eventually would plateau at around 2% of the total food market. However, concerns surrounding radioactive contamination of the domestic food supply have led to a boom in sales of certified organic products, now considered safer than their equivalent conventional products. Cases of radiation tainted food like meat, tea and rice all around Japan, that were not detected by governmental controls, have led to a lack of confidence in the domestic food supply that ultimately will be reflected in the growth of organic food imports to cater for demand. Japan already imports around 50% of its conventional food and raw materials, and it is expected that imports of JAS certified organic food will increase.

The Japanese market offers greater potential than ever for Australian organic exporters.

Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS)

JAS is the abbreviation for “Japanese Agricultural Standard”, which includes organic food and farming standards for Japan. Australian Certified Organic was the first certification body to become JAS accredited within Australia and has the majority of JAS clients within Australia.

ACO is also accredited to certify to the JAS organic livestock and livestock feed standards.

The JAS mark is required for export of all products covered under the JAS organic standards, except the importer already carries JAS certification (agricultural and processed products only). A list of JAS certified Japanese importers can be obtained here.

The main categories of certification under JAS are quite similar to ACO. Categories differ depending on whether a product or ingredient is unprocessed or processed, and the stage at which the product is packaged for sale to Japan.

Products that are exempt from the JAS scope and do not require JAS certification include personal care products, honey, aquaculture and alcoholic beverages.

The following list includes links to download more information for each JAS category: (last revision March/April 2012)

Agricultural Producer / Grower
Processor / Manufacturer
Livestock Producer / Grower / Abattoir
Producer & Processors of Organic Animal Feeds
Repacker / Relabeller / Sub-Divider

For more information on JAS please check the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) website here

Certification process

The JAS certification system is very similar to the system used to certify ACO clients. In addition to your current ACO certification, to apply for JAS you need to submit the information and follow the process outlined below:

  • Complete JAS Application form: Producer/Processors/Feed/Repackers or Livestock
  • Attend JAS training course. When formally applying for JAS certification you will need to identify an individual who will be responsible for Quality Management Operations (the Production Process Manager – PPM) and an individual who will be responsible for Grading (Grading Manager). These key individuals will need to have completed a JAS training course which is mandatory to JAS certification and needs to be prearranged with ACO.
  • Complete the following documents provided by ACO:
  1. Operation ChecklistUpdate your Organic Management Plan including JAS procedures
  2. Grading Manual. Grading is essentially an internal auditing process that is implemented prior to the application of the JAS logo.
  3. Submit Ingredient Declaration for specific JAS products (if required)
  4. Submit other relevant documents (e.g. Current certificate for organic ingredients – if processed products)
  • All documents are review by ACO
  • On-site audit allocated & audit conducted at operation premises
  • Certification Review Committee (CRC) review (Audit report reviewed by appointed reviewer)
  • Licence Agreement issued
  • Certificate issued (original JAS certificates are only issued once without an expiry date. Confirmation letter will be issued annually)