Japanese and South Korean wholesalers target further expansion in c-stores

Tanpopo and HMart have outlined plans to expand further across the UK, giving more retailers access to the growing market of fresh southeast Asian food.

Japanese food specialist Tanpopo currently has central listings through Booker, Bestway and Nisa, while retailers can also order products direct from the firm. With more than 50 products available, Tanpopo lists sushi, gyoza, salads, rice bowls and Doroyaki dessert filled pancakes among its product range.

The firm’s sales manager Alex Conchie told Better Retailing its range is currently stocked in Booth’s, as well as various Costcutter stores throughout the UK, adding it is targeting further expansion.

“Fresh Japanese food is a growing market and we’re selling into independents, as it’s a big opportunity for us,” he said. “We launched our full range into Bestway this year, and we have a selected range with Booker and Nisa. Demand has been really good in stores. For example, we’ve been in the Costcutter University of Salford store for several months and they’re ordering from us daily.

“We offer products for all types of budgets. Salad boxes are more affordable, but fresh sushi is a bit more premium due to the ingredients. We’ve got a real mix and the average margin we offer is 40%. We deliver between Bristol and York and we’re looking to eventually expand.”

Conchie added delivery times will vary depending on the country, but stated the firm offers next-day delivery with a minimum spend requirement of £45 for sites in London. The products are also made fresh from its own site, and offer a shelf-life of between two to six days.

Its most popular products are chicken katsu curry, tempura rice bowls, nigiri, sushi, salmon and poke salad boxes.

Major supermarkets have also spotted the opportunity in fresh Japanese food. In September, Waitrose launched a Japanese own-label line called ‘Menyu.’

Meanwhile, South Korean wholesaler HMart, who operates the Oseyo convenience chain across the south of England, has also outlined ambitions to become a national supplier. In recent financial accounts filed for the year ending 31 December 2022, the firm said: “The company has achieved an increase in wholesale customers as well as increased sales and hopes to increase the speed of expansion into the north of the UK.

“Great efforts and investments are being made to reach further in both retail and wholesale divisions. London has reached saturation of Asian food brands and there are stronger financial opportunities in Wales, Scotland and the north of England. The company will make greater efforts to expand at a faster pace in the coming year.”


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