Showcasing hundreds of US organic products and briefing the Japanese business community on the American organic industry, Tokyo played host to the first-ever Organic Day in Japan on October 29. Sponsored by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the event helped explain to Japanese residents how organic food benefits consumers, farmers and the environment. In addition, the event helped deepen the awareness and trust of the US organic brand—planting seeds for long-term business opportunities in Japan.

“Organic represents less than 1 percent of the food industry in Japan, but  there is plenty of room and momentum to grow,” says Monique Marez, OTA’s associate director of international trade. “High-quality food is very important to Japanese consumers. As they learn more about the strict regulations and standards guiding the American organic industry, they are developing more appreciation for organic, its quality and its benefits.”

According to OTA, Japan has the ninth-largest organic market in the world, valued at approximately $1 billion. OTA says Japan’s stable economy, solid per capita income and discerning consumers make it a prime target for growth. Beginning in 2014, the US and Japan have traded organic products under an organic equivalency arrangement, which allows a product certified as organic in one country to be sold as organic in the other.

During the event, an American organic “market” featuring hundreds of US products drew more than 5,000 people. The products ranged from organic beer and wine to organic fermented tea drinks, organic power bars, organic meals and more.

 “Organic Day was one of the largest activities OTA has ever conducted as an official cooperator in USDA’s Market Access Program,” says Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director for OTA. “Japan holds tremendous potential business opportunities for the American organic sector, and OTA’s goal is to help the organic industry build the relationships and US organic brand awareness required for long-term growth in this important market.”