Renowned Malaysian supermodel and actress – Amber Chia joined the Japan Fruit & Vegetables Export Promotion Council (J-FEC) and the Japan Food Product Overseas Promotion Center (JFOODO) in announcing their upcoming campaign, “JAPANESE FRUIT. THE ULTIMATE GIFT.” – an initiative to encourage a healthier lifestyle and gifting culture in Malaysia (a.k.a Omiyage in Japanese).
According to the National Health Morbidity Survey 2019 (NHMS 2019), 50.1 percent of Malaysian adults were classified as overweight or obese, leading to a multitude of health risks including – diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, etc. Considering that most of the public was confined to their homes during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, the NHMS 2020 observed a 4.1 percent increase in overweight and obese adults within just a year, totaling it up to a staggering 54.2 percent.
This led to J-FEC and JFOODO’s objective of promoting a healthier lifestyle and gifting culture within Malaysia by encouraging the rakyat to take into consideration the health factors of their presents. As a result of Malaysia being one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, many festive occasions, public holidays, and gifting opportunities are observed and embedded within our culture. Hence why the “JAPANESE FRUIT. THE ULTIMATE GIFT.” campaign was established to educate the public on healthier alternatives for conventional presents.
In a press conference, Amber Chia commented saying, “Gifts, in general, are a representation of how one feels about the receiving party. A rose could signify romance and love; buying your loved ones chocolates and other goodies could mean that you prioritize ensuring that their cravings are well satisfied. However, it takes a great deal of friendship and care to opt for healthier gift alternatives and let your loved ones know that you wish to be in their presence for many years to come.”
Apart from being beneficial for health, Japanese fruits have been regarded across the globe as some of the most premium produce attainable in the world. Its high, yet affordable price makes it so that the premium gift most definitely stands out at any party or occasion. Additionally, just like flowers, each fruit holds a specific symbolic meaning to it – and it varies across different cultures, myths, and legends.
Seasons have a big weight in Japanese culture, and Japanese people love representations of the different times of the year in every form. Fruit is often seen as a suitable gift because it has a seasonality rareness to it that allows people to experience the colors, smells, and tastes of that particular season.
Mr. Yoshihisa Hishinuma, Chairman of the Japan Fruit and Vegetables Export Council (J-FEC), said, “We wanted to introduce Japanese fruits as the ultimate gifts, not only because they are packaged in an aesthetic ensemble but also to expand and create a healthy alternative for fruit baskets and gift hampers in the Malaysian market. With its seasonal rarity combined with its cost, it gives the receiver sort of a luxurious feel and allows them to try something that is widely marketed but would rarely be purchased for personal use.”
Then added saying, “With the launch of the ‘JAPANESE FRUIT. THE ULTIMATE GIFT.’ campaign, we look toward helping the community slowly adapt to a healthier lifestyle. In time, it will significantly impact the obesity rates and health risks in Malaysia, and I am delighted to be able to play a part in this momentous campaign.”
In light of Malaysia going through its endemic phase, people have given more importance to health, hygiene, and staying safe. Thus, the campaign was launched in a timely manner ahead of the festive season as Malaysians are now able to resume their normal routines of visiting friends and family members with healthier gift options at hand.