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Japan's Vending Machine Industry Declines 2%

Posted On: 5/31/2012

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Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association, JVMA, Takashi Kurosaki TOKYO -- Revenue generated by vending machines in Japan slid 2.1% to about 5.3 trillion yen ($67 billion) in 2011 as the number of machines on location declined 2.4% to 5,084,340 units. Data on the Japanese vending market were released last month by the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association (JVMA).

Not unlike the market in the U.S., vending machine revenue in Japan, the world's third-largest economy, has been declining over the past decade. In 2001, JVMA estimated that there were about 5.6 million vending machines in Japan that generated 7.1 trillion yen ($90 billion).

Last year's magnitude 9 earthquake northeast of Tokyo and the ensuing tsunami damaged and destroyed many machines in the coastal region devastated by the wave, but seemed to have had minimal impact on Japan's vending industry overall. Following the disasters that hit on March 11, JVMA secretary general Takashi Kurosaki said he was endeavoring to assess their impact on the industry. In general, Japan's economic recovery has been slow, and vending has not been an exception.

Beverage machines are the dominant vending category in Japan. In 2011, 2.15 million soft drink machines posted 1.9 trillion yen ($24 billion). Machines dispensing coffee, milk, beer and sake round out Japan's beverage category, and collectively they represented about 361 billion yen ($4.6 billion).

Japan's food vending machines earned 74.1 billion yen ($944 million).

Machines dispensing tobacco products have survived in Japan, but the category's installed base has been reduced by almost 50% over the past decade. In 2011, an estimated 327,500 tobacco machines generated 590 billion yen ($7.5 billion).

In 2008, cigarette machines in Japan began verifying a patron's age by reading a smart card called taspo. Purchases of cigarettes and other tobacco products can only be made by those in possession of the card, issued to adult applicants (which in Japan is 20 years of age). The card is held up to a sensor after money is inserted into the machine. Some beer and sake vending machines also require age verification.

As part of its annual study, JVMA classifies additional vending categories as ticket, "other" and automatic service machines.

Last year, there were 17,000 ticket-to-ride and 24,000 meal-ticket machines operating in Japan. Together, these high-denomination categories represented almost 1.9 trillion yen ($24 billion) in sales through vending machines. (In Japan, vending machines are commonly used in casual restaurants to sell meal tickets; a restaurant patron purchases a ticket from a vender and presents it to a server who then prepares and serves the meal. Meal-ticket machines are called " shokkenki.")

Revenue generated by 860,040 "other" vending machines in 2011 totaled about 374 billion yen ($4.8 billion). Products in this segment include postal stamps, sundries, sanitary goods, cards, newspapers and magazines, and toys (similar to capsuled novelties in the U.S.), among others.

JVMA identifies automatic service machines as coin/bill changers, goods rental machines and coin lockers. Last year, there were almost 1.3 million of these machines operating in Japan, with coin lockers dominating the service category at 1.2 million earning more than 127 billion yen ($1.6 billion). Changers and rental machines are nonrevenue categories.

Type Products 2011 Ratio to previous year Share
Number of machines (1) Amount (2) Number Amount Number Amount
\1,000 (%) (%) (%) (%)
Beverage VM Soft drink 2,146,600 1,895,447,800 98.4 96.4 42.2 35.7
Milk 163,900 144,559,800 95.0 93.1 3.2 2.7
Coffee in cup 184,800 159,667,200 92.6 88.0 3.6 3.0
Beer,Sake 35,200 55,616,000 96.4 96.4 0.7 1.0
Beverage  VM Total 2,530,500 2,255,290,800 97.7 95.5 49.8 42.5
Food VM Total 74,100 58,087,140 98.1 98.3 1.5 1.1
Tobacco VM 327,500 589,500,000 89.2 98.5 6.4 11.1
Ticket VM Ticket to ride 17,000 1,645,600,000 99.4 99.4 0.3 31.0
Meal ticket 24,000 252,000,000 100.8 101.8 0.5 4.8
Ticket VM Total 41,000 1,897,600,000 100.2 99.7 0.8 35.8
Other VM Postal stamps etc. 40 56,000 80.0 80.0 0.0 0.0
Razor,tissue etc. 98,000 32,340,000 98.0 98.0 1.9 0.6