Fake but Original? Japanese Food and Property Rights in South East Asian Countries

Giovanni Ramello (Università del Piemonte Orientale)
Alessandro Melcarne (Unversité Paris Nanterre)
Koji Domon (Waseda University Tokyo)


This paper essentially tries to answer to two questions: whether restaurants using a national brand to capture customers actually use the named national ingredients for producing food, and ancillary, in cases when they do not use the original ingredients, what is the economic rationale behind this choice? In particular it tries to answer these questions by focusing on Japanese restaurants in three Southeast Asian countries. It does so by means of a theoretical model and a subsequent empirical investigation benefiting from interviews and survey data collected therewith through field research. Considering restaurants, their suppliers, and their customers, we highlight the existence of a double problem of incomplete information, existing both between suppliers and restaurants, and between restaurants and customers. Findings show that while a first reason for buying non-original ingredients may be connected with a desire to reduce costs, and this seems to be important for cheap restaurants especially, the use is widespread in many Japanese restaurants of the three countries; it does not depend on the presence of a Japanese chef or owner; it does not depend even on the share of Japanese customers; by contrast it significantly depends on the reliability of the wholesale channel and the subsequent difficulty restaurants experience when buying original ingredients.

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