Calpis goes plant-based: Asahi to launch soymilk version of cultured milk beverage

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Asahi to launch plant-based Calpis drink using soymilk  ©Asahi Soft Drinks
Asahi to launch plant-based Calpis drink using soymilk ©Asahi Soft Drinks

Related tags Japan Asahi Soy Lactic acid

Asahi is to launch a plant-based version of its cultured milk drink Calpis, using soy milk instead of regular milk.

The soy-based Calpis drink (Green Calpis) is expected to be released in April. Calpis is a popular lactic acid drink first launched in 1919 and is made from non-fat dairy milk, which is fermented slowly by adding microorganisms including lactobacilli.

While the flavour is expected to the same as original Calpis, the Green Calpis drink is touted to have a more refreshing aftertaste and lower in sweetness, from its use of soymilk.

The company hopes to sell 500,000 boxes of the drink, mainly targeting health-conscious females in their 40s and 50s, as well as consumers with a preference for non-dairy products.

Plant-based potential

According to Asahi Group Holdings’ manager of public relations, Kristin Chiu, the move behind Green Calpis was, “based on growing health concerns about dairy (coupled with) the potential of the plant-based milk market in Japan, hence we were determined to develop plant-based Calpis using our fermentation technology​.

Using soybeans as ingredient is once-a-century challenge for calpis, since we have used milk as ingredient for over 100 years​,” Chiu told us.

Green Calpis drink will be available in convenience stores, supermarkets and general stores in April 2020. It retails for JPY138 (USD1.20) per 300mL.

Plans for 2020

In 2019, Asahi sold 41.77 million boxes of Calpis, and the company is aiming for 43.3 million boxes this year.

According to Chiu, other best-sellers in Asahi Soft Drinks business include Wilkinson (sparkling water), Mitsuya Cider (carbonated cider) and Wonda (coffee beverage).

Asahi Soft Drinks business aims to sell a total 270.5 million boxes in 2020, from 265.15 million boxes in 2019, focusing mainly on its key brands. The company also plans to launch new flavours for Mitsuya Cider this year.

With the upcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, the company is making some changes to the marketing of its beverages.

We expect huge number of inbound foreigners visiting Japan which would increase the demand of soft drink beverage. We will renew the packages of Calpis Water and Wilkinson with English written on the back label​,” Chiu explained.

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