Sector studies and information

the sushi market

Germany

Last update: 03/09/2021

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Market overview

1.1 Presentation and definition of the sushi market in Germany

Sushi is a Japanese dish based on vinegar rice (shari) and another ingredient (neta) which most often is raw fish.

There are different types of sushi, however the core is made up of:

  • Makis - sushi in the form of a roll wrapped in seaweed;
  • Temakis - the preparation is similar to maki, but it has the form of a cone;
  • Nigiris - Slice of raw fish laid on an oval-shaped rice ball.

Sushi restaurants experienced an increase in revenues of 21% between 2012 and 2018 worldwide (average annual growth of 3.2%). The current dynamism of this sector owes a lot to the popularity of this dish around the world, thus increasingly distributed in Large and Medium-Sized Surfaces (SMEs) and offered through delivery.

The world market is in full expansion, driven by the dynamism of Japanese restaurants in all regions of the world, led by Asia and North America.

In Germany, where it was looked upon with scepticism a few years ago, sushi is now very much in demand and available practically everywhere. It is no longer found only in high-end Japanese restaurants, but also in supermarkets. Sushi also plays an important role in delivery services today and guarantees rapid growth in the catering sector. Today, there are between 1000 and 2000 shops and restaurants offering sushi all over the country.

1.2 A dynamic global market

Sushi is strongly rooted in Japanese culture, which subsequently has positive spillover effects on the revenue which the industry generates. These revenues were slightly impacted by the crisis between 2008 and 2011, losing 7% of value (-2.2% on annual average) since households were more reluctant to go to restaurants during this time. However, since 2012, sushi restaurant income has been rising: it increased by 21% between 2012 and 2018 (average annual growth of 3,2% ) to settle at 1,530 billion yen (i.e USD 13.6 billion approximately). [Anan-zaidan]

Revenue generated by sushi consumption

Japan, 2009-2018, in trillions of yen

CAGR 2012-2018: 3.2%

Source Anan-zaidan

In 2017, there were approximately 117,000 Japanese restaurants outside of Japan whereas according to a report by NHK, taken up by Forbes, the number of Japanese restaurants in the world was 24,000 in 2006. The main hubs for these restaurants are Asia (59%) and North America (22%). There was also a strong growth in the number of Japanese restaurants between 2015 and 2017 since there were only 88,650 of these restaurants worldwide in 2015, showing a growth of 33% over the period, mainly thanks to continental Asian countries (+53% over 2015-2017, 24% annual average). [Nippon]
Number of japanese restaurants by geographic zone

World, 2017, number of restaurants

Source: Nippon

 

1.3 The German market is showing resilience

In Germany, the wider catering market has been growing steadily in the last years:

Revenue from catering businesses subject to tax

Germany, 2010 - 2018, billion euros

Sushi restaurants in particular contributed to this increase: according to chefswonderland since the first sushi outlet opened in 1990 in Germany, nearly 2,000 restaurants are said to have sprung up. There are two types of restaurants that serve sushi:
  • Traditional Japanese restaurants: there are about 100 in Germany serving authentic Japanese cuisine;
  • Non-traditional Japanese restaurants: these claim to serve Japanese cuisine but are less concerned with traditions and methods

To determine the size of the sushi market in Germany, the following data was used: the number of Japanese restaurants in Germany in 2017 (A); the number of Asian restaurants in 2017 (B) and the total sales of Asian restaurants in 2017 (C).

(A/B)xC = Total sales of sushi restaurants in Germany 

A : 1500 [chefswonderland] ; B : 10 467 ; C : 1,8346 (billion €) [Euromonitor International]

The sushi market in Germany is therefore estimated at 262.912 million euros.

However, this estimate has several weaknesses : first of all, the number of Japanese restaurants is between 1000 and 2000 according to the chefswonderland site, which does not allow us to be sure of the value used here (1500). Secondly, this calculation only takes into account restaurants (full and limited service), and therefore omits sushi from mass distribution, which represents a large share of the market. Thus it is quite possible that this market estimate is lower than the actual size.
Nevertheless, by making the same calculation with figures from previous years we can estimate the evolution of the Japanese restaurant market, as depicted below:
 
Japanese Restaurants Market Size

Germany, 2014-2019, in million euros

Source: Euromonitor International chefswonderland traitement Businesscoot

 

1.4 A changing scene for sushi in Germany

The market has managed to avoid the saturation of its French neighbour
The German sushi market, similar to its European counterparts, has gone through tremendous change in recent years. In many aspects, it has been somewhat slow to keep up with the changes of its French neighbour. Within the latter, sushi has known a 15-year explosion until 2015 with a growing number of sale points, "you opened a restaurant, and it worked every time." reports a professional in the sector for Le Monde.
The difference, however, was the saturation encountered by the French market in the following years which doesn't appear to be the case on the German market. This can be explained by the fact that it was less developed at the time as there was less investments made by funds, who in France were betting on sushi to become a mass product like pizza.
The German market has reinvented itself
Frankfurter Rundschau reports in 2017 on the evolution of the market : the sector has seen an increase in the price of raw materials (salmon in particular). As a result, non-traditional restaurants had to fall back on lower quality. For Ellen Kartenbeck, the managing director of the pioneer Sushi-Factory (a company that has been operating in Germany since 1998), the price increase has prevented the achievement of large-scale coverage and has concentrated the market in cities.
On the other hand, other observers such as Wolfgang Adlwarth, GfK's consumer expert, stated in 2017 that more sushi outlets should be expected in the territory in the future "We are seeing strong growth in the retail sector, especially last year - double-digit growth figures that clearly exceed the usual growth rates for food ."
The fact remains that in 2020 the German market has reinvented itself. This includes making sushi more affordable through its ingenious supermarket distribution, which is discussed in later sections.

Demand Analysis

2.1 A growing demand for ready-to-eat meals from younger generations

Nowadays, sushi is the second most popular food on Instagram (after pizza) in terms of hashtag mentions. In January 2016, 52.1% of Germans had eaten sushi at least once during the month [CHD-Expert]. A real increase since in 2014, when a study on consumption of seafood products in Germany reported that 18% of the German population eats sushi once a month. The study stated that 27% of them were young adults (in the 20-29 age group). [Seafood studie, so essen die Deutschen]

 
Sushi Consumption by Age Group

Germany, 2016, %  

 
The demand for sushi is more significant among a younger population. In a context of ever-increasing numbers of individual households and a highly mobile society, consumer habits have changed, in favour of the "ready-to-eat" food industry. Sushi enjoys an ideal format to meet the demand of a young population, which values fresh and good quality food, but also efficiency.
 
Ready to Eat Chains Market Size

Germany, 2012-2019, US$ Million

Sushi is considered as much as a qualitative dish when going out to a restaurant as a healthy solution to have a quick dinner at home, for example, according to a study Euromonitor International. This reality is represented by the graph below, which shows the diversity of sushi consumption habits in 2014.
 
Favourite places to eat sushi

Germany, 2016, % 

For the 20-29 age group, the share of restaurant consumption was as high as 79%. It is important to take into account, however, the fact that this data (the most recent available) already goes back 7 years from 2021. Today we know that the share of consumption at home and on the go has increased following the explosion of delivery platforms and points of sale in supermarkets. [Seafood Study, So essen die Deutschen]

2.2 Salmon and Tuna rule the market

In Germany salmon is still the most popular fish eaten in sushi, followed by tuna. Together, they account for 68 % of German preferences:

Most Popular Fish in Sushi

Germany, 2016, % 

Seafood Studie also reports that salmon sushi is eaten less in Germany than in its European neighbours. This can be explained by the somewhat less developed market as mentioned earlier. For example, in Germany, in 2016, on average a person will consume 0,02 kilograms of salmon sushi per year, a figure that is equal to 0,06 in England. An important part of tuna fishing is destined for sushi. Demand also associates it with this product, as shown in the graph below. Among the first foods that come to mind when Germans talk about tuna are sushi.
 
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of tuna?

Germany, 2019, % of

2.3 A demand that is turning towards supermarkets

In 2014 the penetration rate of sushi in supermarkets in Germany was only 1.6%. [Seafood Study, So essen die Deutschen]
However, in the last six years, sushi has become the most popular food in the world and a must in supermarket shelves. Its target includes young people, great sushi lovers, in search of freshness, long shelf life, but above all in search of a more affordable sushi box than the one in restaurants.
The introduction of sushi boxes at German discounters has led to a significant price decrease of 11.8% for sushi and 6% growth in 2013 [ndr].
In this regard, brands that distribute in supermarkets, such as Sushi daily, Eat happy and Natsu food, focus their communication on the concerns of young consumers, which includes respect for the environment, product quality, freshness and finally price. Thus the word "quality" is found 8 times in the heading history from natsu while the notion of "freshness" is found 6 times in the heading about us on-site of Eat Happy.

2.4 The explosion of delivery platforms

Still insignificant in 2014, the share of food ordered online in Germany has only increased since then. The boom in delivery platforms bodes well for the sushi market, as it stands out as one of the most suitable and popular dishes for delivery (see market structure). Moreover, the proportion of the population that considers sushi to be a practical and healthy dish to eat at home is perfectly reflected in this offer.
Portion of total Meals that were Deliveries

 Germany, 2014-2019, %

Source: Euromonitor International

On-site consumption retains a large share of the market (75%) but it is declining year by year to make way for home delivery, while take-away and drive-away sales have not changed since 2014. [Euromonitor International

Distribution of consumption patterns in food services

Germany, 2019, % % of

 
Finally, this trend will only get stronger, as indicated in the report by Dehoga Bundesverband on gastronomy in Germany in 2018. According to the report, the catering industry was the delivery sector that had the better growth prospects followed closely by the ready-to-eat meal mentioned earlier.
 
Most Promising Sectors

Germany, 2018, base 0, max 5, min -5

Market structure

3.1 Salmon suppliers : an essential input to production

Salmon production : the Norwegian quasi-monopoly

The sushi market is highly dependent on the market for fish, which is the main raw material. According to the report Seafood Study, So essen die Deutschen 81% of the salmon in sushi comes from the Atlantic Ocean.

Origin of the salmon in sushi

Germany, 2016, in %

The study adds that among them, 90 % of the salmon consumed for sushi in Germany comes from Norway, more specifically from salmon farming. In 2019 notre-planete-info reported that while the number of salmon aquacultures has decreased by 40% in 10 years (although their size has increased), total annual production of farmed salmon has increased by a factor of 40 over the past 20 years and has increased by almost 40% in just 3 years (2016-2019).

Meanwhile, the price of salmon has also increased significantly : according to indexmundi, in June 2015 a kilo of salmon was worth an average of €4.6 whereas in June 2017 that price was €7.2. In 2020 according to the site france agrimer a kilo of salmon averaged around €8.

Salmon suppliers are directly linked to the market:

The leader in hypermarkets and supermarkets, Sushi Daily buys all fish processed in Germany from Deutsche See - a supplier that guarantees fish from sustainable and socially responsible sources which is supplied exclusively with Norwegian fish. Intermediary players such as Deutsche See represent an important segment of the market in that they act as a link between salmon producers and the food processing industry. Deutsche See is the market leader in Germany, with more than 35,000 customers in the food retail and catering industry.

3.2 Distribution concentrated in few channels

The site cdh-expert, provided in 2016 an overview of sushi consumption in Germany, where they established the top 3 distribution channels :

  • Japanese restaurants, independent (on site, take away or delivery) ;
  • Catering chains offering sushi (on site, take away or delivery);
  • Retail shelves.

In 2016, 29.2% of Germans prefered traditional Japanese independent restaurants to enjoy their sushi on the spot or to go. Then comes all-you-can-eat Asian buffet-style restaurants and in third, hypermarkets and supermarkets. [cdh-expert]

In response to a demand for more affordable sushi, the number of outlets in supermarkets has grown significantly. In the early years, such sushi was frowned upon because it didn't give the same impression of fresh food that sushi usually gives. In the end, the strategy paid off. In order to restore this image of freshness, more and more large supermarkets in the country have set up bars and stands where employees prepare fresh sushi in front of customers and pack it in "take-out" boxes. The forerunner of this trend, Sushi daily, has nearly 700 sushi bars in supermarkets throughout Europe.

The success of theseshops in shops,with for example the Rewe to go in the supermarkets of the same name, goes hand in hand with the ready-to-eat trend, to which sushi is perfectly suited.

3.3 The rise of delivery platforms restructured the market

The trend and explosion of delivery platforms over the last 5 years has also taken place in Germany and, as evident by the evolution of the share of food ordered online as a proportion of the total food ordered from food services, this trend is only just beginning. 
Percentage of food ordered online

Germany, 2014-2019, in %

In Germany, the most popular delivery services in 2019 are detailed in the graph below. There is a certain dominance of the Lieferando and Lieferheld platforms. In 2018, Lieferheld, its compatriot Hello Fresh and the British company Deliveroo raised 2.5 billion euros in private funds before their IPO, which represented 60% of the investments in Foodtech this year according to LSA conso.
What online delivery services have you used in the last 12 months?

Germany, 2019, in

In 2015, Lieferando's website displayed the shares of the most ordered dishes according to cities in Germany. The map below shows the percentage for sushi, if it is among the top 3 most ordered dishes. The cities mentioned are the following (starting top right and then clockwise) Magdeburg, Berlin, Dresden, Erfurt Munich, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg.

Thus, sushi is often part of the top 3 most ordered dishes. We can estimate that this share has increased in 5 years with the development of this type of consumption.

Analysis of the offer

4.1 Average price per type of sushi

The price of sushi varies depending on the distribution channel and the type of sushi. In addition, restaurants usually offer trays or formulas with an assortment of sushi, which again increases the price range at which sushi is sold.

The table below gives an idea of what sushi prices can be when sold by a supermarket chain or kiosk (6 pieces for a maki, 1 piece for a terimaki, 8 pieces for sashimi, 2 pieces for nigiris/sushis). The prices of sushi sold in supermarkets are relatively similar.

 

Type of sushi

Price

Maki

4-5 €

Terimaki

5€

Sashimi

6-7 €

Nigiri/Sushi

4-5 €

 

The restaurant prices off-chain are harder to illustrate. Restaurants offer different options (all you can eat, à la carte,), with prices depending on the quality of the product sold. Nevertheless, consumers are often ready to pay more in restaurants than in supermarkets. [Planet Sushi]

 

4.2 The different types of sushi

The German market includes all the traditional sushi known on the European market, the demand for it is roughly similar from one country to another and therefore the supply is not more or less varied than in one of its neighbours.

  • Makis - sushi in the form of a roll wrapped in seaweed
  • Temakis - the preparation is similar to maki, in the form of a cone
  • Nigiris - Slice of raw fish laid on an oval-shaped rice ball
  • California Roll maki: a maki that contains avocado, crab and cucumber 
  • Spring Roll:  spring roll
  • Tataki : slice of fish very lightly cooked and marinated in vinegar
  • Chirashi bowl of rice with assorted toppings
  • Tempura : seafood or fried vegetables

There are also different types of filling :

  • Avocado
  • sake : salmon cut into pieces
  • ebi : shrimps and mayonnaise
  • ninjin : finely chopped carrot
  • kappa : cucumber (kyuri: Japanese cucumber)
  • kampyō : dried pumpkin strips
  • nattō: fermented soybeans
  • Okra
  • Oshinko: Takuan (daikon or pickled vegetables)
  • pickled radish
  • tamago omelet
  • tekka : tuna
  • Tofu
  • ume : Umeboshi paste (Japanese plum)

Nevertheless, the offers are diversifying, and we are beginning to identify an opening towards other Japanese or Asian recipes : bento, ramen or even bo bun.

Regulation

5.1 Supervision of sushi sales

The sale of sushi must follow the regulations for the sale of food : notably the rules (EC) No 853/2004 which lays down the hygiene rules to be followed for food of animal origin. [Eur-Lex] The most important point in structuring the market is that fish must be frozen before being eaten raw.

The sale of sushi must also follow eDI regulations on Hygiene in Food Handling (817.024.1). This defines in Germany not only the prerequisites for any preparation based on raw fish, but also the provisions to be taken.

Article 44 lays down the temperature requirements for processed fishery products containing cold rice acidified with rice vinegar < pH 4,5 (sushi). That temperature is 5 °C.

Positioning of the players

6.1 Segmentation

Segmentation
Type of company Name of company Turnover
German companies Eat Happy 172 M € (2017)
Sushi Daily N.A
Natsu Shop 3.8 Billion € (2019)
European leaders Sushi Shop 1.5 Billion € (2018)
WAGAMAMA 800 M € (2018)
Yo Sushi 175 M € (2017)
Planet Sushi 63 M € (2019)
Traditional Japanese restaurants ZENKICHI (Berlin) N.A
Senju Restaurant (Mannheim)
N.A

 

Companies

Sushi Shop Restauration

DUNS: 449531391
Turnover: 109.301 million € (2020)
Description:

The Sushi Shop restaurant chain specialises in the preparation and sale of sushi. Since its creation in 1998, the chain has extended its network in France and internationally and now has 120 restaurants (franchises). Sushi Shop is positioned in the high-end Japanese fast food, offering a simplified menu (at relatively high prices) and partnerships with famous chefs (Cyril Lignac, Thierry Marx ...)

External Sources and News:

Since 2017, the group has begun a wave of franchise buyouts financed by an 11 million euro loan.

Groupe Planet Sushi

DUNS: 477542823
Turnover: 90 million € (2018)
Description:

Groupe Planet Suhi is a holding company that develops the Planet Sushi franchise in France since 2008.

The group had a business volume of 90M€ in 2018 with 70 restaurants.

The group was placed under safeguard proceedings in 2014 and was released in 2015.

The company places great emphasis on innovation compared to traditional products. For example, Planet Sushi launched Fresh Roll in 2002 and Nutella Sushi in 2007.

Planet Sushi products can be eaten on the spot, to take away, but also delivered at home: the company has even launched its "By Night" delivery service in 2017.

Source Company website

Matsuri

DUNS: 40916042
Turnover: 17.8 million € (2015)
Description:

Matsuri was founded in 1986 in Paris. Today, the brand owns 17 restaurants in France and abroad (Switzerland and Morocco). The chain is rather positioned on the top-of-the-range.

Like the rest of the French market, most of the restaurants are located in the Paris region (9 out of 17).

On site, the particularity of Matsuri is to have a revolving counter. In fact, it is the first restaurant to have adopted this concept in Europe. The cooks are behind the counter to prepare the sushi. It is also possible to order sushi to take away. However, delivery only accounts for 40% of Matsuri's business.

Source: Company website

Sushi Daily

DUNS: 522147271
Turnover: non renseigné
Description:

Since 2010, Sushi Daily is a chain of kiosks offering sushi in supermarkets but also in airports and train stations. It has more than 700 kiosks in France but also internationally in 9 European countries other than France (Belgium, Spain, Italy, etc.).

In France, Sushi Daily will have 252 kiosks in 2018 in Carrefour, Monoprix, Système U, Intermarché, Géant and Leclerc supermarkets.

Source Company website , HanaGroup

Natsu Shop

DUNS: N.C
Turnover: non renseigné
Description:

Natsu shop, offers dishes and sushi to supermarkets, it has a physical point of sale since 2018, but the bulk of its business is to distribute sushi for supermarkets

Description of the site Nastu store All products in the shop are freshly produced daily in our Neuss factory. As you may already know, we attach great importance to sustainability. We ensure that our fish comes from sustainable fish farming and that our packaging is recyclable and partially biodegradable. For example, our cutlery, which we add to take away for free, is made from PLA. This means they are made from renewable raw materials, not petroleum. It is also important for us to maintain our regional roots, both in the supply of raw materials and in the manufacture of the products themselves.

Eat happy

DUNS: N.C
Turnover: 35 million € (2017)
Description:

EatHappy is the market leader in Germany for fresh daily hand-rolled sushi and original Asian snacks. As a shop-in-shop concept in food retailing, EatHappy operates more than 400 locations in Germany. In EatHappy stores, professional sushi chefs prepare top-quality Asian products fresh in front of the customers. This ultra-fresh concept, which is new in Germany, has now established itself and is expanding rapidly. EatHappy has been active in Austria since 2015 and today has almost 300 locations (more than 30 shop-in-shop concepts and more than 300 shop-in-shop boxes) and 200 employees.