Japan's newest trend: bacon n' eggs on the iPhone

A showcase full of life-like food dishes has tempted Japanese diners for decades and one company is keeping the tradition alive with a modern twist: putting fake food on smartphones.

Japanese restaurants traditionally display sample dishes made from vinyl resin in showcases near their entrances. The dishes represent a selection of what the restaurant offers and sometimes include pricing details.

"Each dish is different and needs to be made by hand – machines just can't reproduce the uniqueness of each dish," said Yuta Kurokawa, spokesperson for Iwasaki Co, Japan's biggest food sample maker with annual sales of around 2.5 billion yen ($21.1 million)– half of Japan's food sample market.

Branching out

While Kurokawa says sales of handmade fake food dishes have been steady over the years, some fake-food makers are looking to branch out giving rise to an unlikely opportunity: smartphone accessories.

Hamee, based in Odawara close to Mount Fuji, offers a range of fake-food smartphone cases and holders that look like sushi, hamburgers and chocolate cake, as well as bacon and eggs.

"The bacon and egg case is our best seller, mainly for the novelty factor," said Yukihiro Tomiyama, spokesperson for mobile accessories maker Hamee.

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Hamee aims to capitalize on the booming smartphone accessories market, with around 90 percent of its sales generated by accessories. Global sales of smartphone accessories are forecast to grow 17 percent to $51 billion in 2015, according to ABI research, following a 25.6 percent on-year rise in 2014.

And Hamee is staying true to tradition – all food samples are hand made by craftsmen in Japan, the company says.

Going public

Riding the momentum generated by its fake-food accessories, Hamee plans to list the Tokyo Stock Exchange's small cap market on April 20.

In the year ending April 2015, the company forecasts an operating profit of 350 million yen ($2.95 million) on sales of 5.1 billion yen. Sales growth has averaged around 10 percent over the past few years, Hamee's Tomiyama said. He expects that momentum to continue.

Proceeds will be used to fund the expansion of its nascent e-commerce website hosting business, which currently generates 10 percent of group sales.