Japan's healthy cola
26 February 2014
Drinking cola in Japan is now officially good for you. A new cola flavour of the popular Mets brand has won government approval for its health-enhancing claims, and is helping to shore up the carbonates category.
Mets Cola, launched in April 2012 by Kirin Beverage Co, has become the first ever carbonate to win government approval as a “tokuho” drink. This means it has gained a special recognition from the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency for its specific health benefits. The popular drink contains a nutrient called indigestible dextrin, which restricts the absorption of fat from food intake, and the drink has quickly turned into a hit product in Japan.
“What’s really exciting about Mets Cola is that it joins a growing number of functional carbonates, targeted to adult consumers, which are helping to shape new segmentation and give new value to consumers,” says Erica Shaw, Beverage Analyst at Canadean.
The popularity of Mets Cola, is positive news for soft drinks, which continue to increase in Japan, despite intense price competition among producers and prolonged economic depression.
For a long time, producers in Japan have attempted to create a more positive image for carbonates, with various sugar-free and zero-calorie offerings. However, by introducing a health benefit, Mets Cola goes one step further.
According to Shaw, “Diet-related tokuho drinks were already available on the market, but only in the iced tea drinks category. With Mets cola, such an unexpected combination of a carbonated beverage and tokuho approval is ground-breaking and expected to yield further products in coming years.”
Health benefits has been a key trend in commercial beverages for years. This has intensified, as the Japanese government and media, concerned over growing national medical expenses in an ageing society, continue to emphasise the importance of staying healthy by having regular medical check-ups and avoiding lifestyle-related diseases.
Other producers have been following the trend such as PepsiCo, which has introduced its own tokuho cola in Japan called Pepsi Special. Canadean expects more tokuho products to arrive and to expand the market, as they command higher prices and are clearly distinguishable by health-conscious consumers. For the foreseeable future, health benefits are expected to continue driving the soft drinks market in Japan.
This information is based on findings from the Canadean report ‘Japan Soft Drinks Market Insights 2013’ published in June 2013.
Mets Cola, launched in April 2012 by Kirin Beverage Co, uses a nutrient called indigestible dextrin, which restricts the absorption of fat from food intake.