Functional food boost: Kirin’s immune functional food sales up two-fold ahead of latest launch in protein bars, drinks

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The range of products containing Kirin's proprietary functional ingredient Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma. © Kirin
The range of products containing Kirin's proprietary functional ingredient Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma. © Kirin

Related tags Kirin Npd Sales

Kirin said sales of its proprietary functional ingredient Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma and functional foods containing the ingredient has doubled as it detailed plans for its use in both protein bars and powders.

Today, fellow Japanese firm Morinaga will be launching a protein brownie bar and a soy protein powder beverage containing the ingredient.

This will bring the total number of finished products containing L. lactis ​strain Plasma to 15.

Between January and October, Kirin said that the cumulative sales of businesses related to the ingredient had doubled as compared to the same period last year.

The ingredient is said to support the maintenance of the immune system by stimulating the plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC).

The company also took home the Immune Support Product of the Year​ during NutraIngredients-Asia Awards 2021 with iMUSE – its range of functional products containing L. lactis ​strain Plasma.

Due to aggressive mail-order advertisements and new TV commercials on FFCs containing the ingredient, the company had seen first-time consumer purchase increased significantly in September.

“In October, the repeat purchase rate improved significantly due to continuous advertising to improve brand awareness…The total sales amount of iMuse supplements from January to October 2021 was favourable – about 2.1 times higher than the previous year,” ​the company said.

Added into protein products

The upcoming launches by Morinaga will see L. lactis ​strain Plasma being added into protein products for the first time.

Morinaga Kirin protein bar
Morinaga's new protein brownie bar

The two products – a protein brownie bar and a soy protein powder drink are already registered as a Foods with Function Claims (FFCs) in Japan.

Both could claim to help maintain the immune function of healthy individuals.

Each protein brownie bar contains 100bn CFU of L. lactis ​strain Plasma and 10g of protein. The target audience are consumers in their 30s to 60s.

On the other hand, the soy protein powder drink, which comes in chocolate flavour, contains iron, calcium, vitamin D, and 10g of soy protein.

Morinaga Kirin protein drink
Morinaga's new soy protein powder drink

Every 20g provides 100bn CFU of L. lactis ​strain Plasma. The target audience are seniors in their 50s to 70s.

“Protein products has been gaining attention from the consumers and we aim to develop a new customer base through the launch of these products,”​ Kirin said.

At the moment, Morinaga has already launched three products that come with L. lactis ​strain Plasma. They are a chocolate product, a chocolate-flavour powder beverage, and an apple flavour lozenge. 

Earlier in September, Kirin had partnered Orihiro in launching a konjac jelly containing the ingredient. 

Candy maker Kanro also commercialised a lemon and yogurt flavour gummy containing the ingredient. 

Tea popular with older adults  

The two products, Kirin Gogo-no-Kocha Milk Tea Plus and Kirin Namacha Life Plus Immune Assist, were launched​ on October 12.Kirin added that two of its newly introduced FFCs added with L. lactis ​strain Plasma have been a hit with consumers in their 50s and 60s.

The former is particularly popular with women in their 50s and 60s, while the latter, which is more frequently purchased by male customers, have also gained popularity amongst women.

“The sales volume of both products has exceeded 20 million units six weeks after their initial release.

“Females in their 50s and 60s made up about 50 per cent of the total sales, which is different from the consumers make-up of Kirin Nama-cha and iMuse,”​ the company said, citing findings from their consumer survey.

As part of its marketing, it is designing customised furniture set-ups that can display the products containing L. lactis ​strain Plasma in pharmacies and supermarkets.

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