Demand for healthier beverages rising in Japan

There has been a significant market shift towards healthier products with cleaner labels across beverages, including tea and coffee, in Japan as consumers become more health-conscious.

“With younger consumers placing high value on natural and organic, more brands are highlighting the use of inherently good-for-you ingredients in their products,” said the Market Intelligence Digest released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Export Marketing Bureau.

The report cited barley tea with deep sea water, almonds rich in vitamin E and fiber, and beverages with low, no or reduced claims.

“Sugar-free was the most prominent claim in RTD (ready-to-drink) coffee, and low/no calorie in RTD tea. Caffeine-free and low/no allergen claims are growing,” it said.

The report also underscored the key innovative trend in gourmet.

“Brands are becoming more daring in their product development process, with new products featuring more bold, indulgent flavors. At the same time, effort is being made by companies to shift the focus back to ingredients, brewing methods and authentic flavors,” it said.

While other markets are moving away from sugary, flavored products in favor of more natural and premium tea and coffee, the opposite trend is unfolding among a small segment.

“Brands are introducing richer, bolder flavors to entice and engage younger consumers in hopes of getting them to write about the products on social media,” it added.

The report also highlighted an effort that is being made by companies to shift the focus back to ingredients, brewing methods and authentic flavors.

“Catering to coffee/tea aficionados, more products feature premium or speciality beans/tea leaves, and there has also been a rise in products said to be free from artificial flavors and colors, especially in RTD tea,” it said.

Companies are adding ingredients with unique textures and mouthfeels, such as chewy, slippery or rough, to provide enhanced eating and drinking experiences as texture is becoming a distinguishing point.

More brands likewise are experimenting with a mix of coffee and tea or tea and fruits/fruit juices aimed at untapped spaces to see if those products can attract more consumers who are less disposed to drinking straight coffee or tea.

“Tea plus fruit RTD tea is a versatile base with which to mix other flavors and ingredients. While fruit flavored iced tea is common, a new genre of tea plus fruit is emerging, made with tea as the base, juice and fruit. When packaged in a transparent cup, it has the potential to attract Instagrammers with its colorful, photogenic appearance,” it said.

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