FoodEx 2019

Functional beverages, fruity beers and speciality coffee quenching Japan's thirst for innovation

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The market size of nutritional beverages such as vegetable and fruit juice is expected to soar in Japan. ©Pixabay
The market size of nutritional beverages such as vegetable and fruit juice is expected to soar in Japan. ©Pixabay

Related tags: functional beverage, Vitamins, Statistics

Japan is witnessing sustained growth in sales of healthy beverages on the back of the ongoing wellness trend, innovative beers in the wake of regulatory changes, and speciality coffees as overseas influences drive preferences.

Following the recent FoodEx show in Japan, we took a look at some of the emerging trends in the nation's beverage sector.

Firstly, healthy drinks and functional products are driving growth in the country's soft drinks market. According to the Nikkei Shimbun, the total size of the soft drink market in 2017 was ¥5.16 trillion (up 0.5% YOY), and in 2018, the market was forecast to hit ¥5.18 trillion (up 0.4% YOY).

Sugarless drinks and mineral water are also showing steady growth, while jelly drinks and vegetable juices, both with high nutritional benefits, are also expected to soar. 

For example, Meiji launched Sokko Genki Jelly nationwide in September 2018. It concentrates 11 vitamins and four minerals into a single drink, at high added concentrations.

These are niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folic acid, and 4 mineral types, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium.

Meanwhile in the beer category, The Liquor Tax Act was amended on April 1, 2018, and broadened the definition of ‘beer’.

This made it possible for firms to add a broader range of secondary ingredients and still market the products as beer, as opposed to ‘happoshu’ (low-malt beer) as beer.

Crucially for brewers, this also led the products to fall into a lower tax bracket.

Kirin was one of the first firms out of the traps, launching several beers containing ingredients such as fruits and coriander seeds.

In terms of hot drinks, speciality coffee only accounts for around 6% of the market, but demand is quickly growing.

A number of speciality coffee shops have sprung-up, including Blue Bottle Coffee, which now has 10 stores, while LA-based chain The Coffee Bean and Tea Life has begun opening outlets in the country.

According to a recent data announced by the Specialty Coffee Association of Japan, 55% of their members who are roasters, wholesalers, retailers, cafés, or importers reported growing sales over the past three years.

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