Figure 4. Actual and predicted market for chilled foods in Europe, 1992-2001.

to more than $840 million by 2001 (1); the current and future chilled-food market trend for Japan can be seen in Figure 5.

Most of this market growth is due to the expanding presence of supermarkets, although much of the available chilled foods is distributed through neighborhood convenience stores. The chilled-food market in Japan is seen as relatively new and expanding by market research companies, as chilled-food distribution systems have only recently been opened to Western companies (1). Home delivery of food to the elderly and the expanding presence of automatic vending machines are expected to contribute significantly to the Japanese chilled-food market growth.

Consumers in both Europe and Japan view the nutritional value and health benefits of chilled foods as being superior to similar frozen or shelf-stable products. A demand for superior quality is also evident in both Europe and Japan, as consumers are willing to pay a premium for chilled foods with authentic home-cooked or restaurant-quality taste. Convenient and functional packaging of chilled foods is given as much accord by Japanese customers as the nutritional quality of the food. Consumers in both Europe and Japan are also becoming more price conscious in light of the 1990 European recession and the recent economic troubles in Asia (1).

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