A selection of new products launched in Japan recently gives a sample of the wealth of information every month in JAPANSCAN Food Industry Bulletin. This time we feature a successful dry happoshu (low malt beer), cranberry wine, cocoa for adults, new functional drinks and tea sweetened with maple syrup.

Dry Happoshu
Japan is a market where fashions change constantly, but some tastes have staying power. One of these is a dry taste in beer. Asahi Breweries developed a dry beer, Super Dry, that was so successful that Asahi came from well behind to push long time market leader Kirin into second place. The recession and overwhelming success of Asahi forced the other major brewers into producing happoshu - a product similar to beer but made with such a low malt content it can't be called beer. The word happoshu is quaintly translated as sparkling malt beverage by some in Japan. This new product category has been a lifesaver for Kirin and Suntory who have both had big hits with their respective happoshu products. Sapporo Breweries, ranked third in the beer market, has launched a new dry variety with some success. Called Sapporo Nama Reisei Karakuchi [ice brewed dry draft happoshu]. It has a dry and refreshing flavor with a clean aftertaste and an alcohol content of 5.5%. Launched in May this year, sales in the first 3 months have been excellent. Sapporo's total happoshu sales were up 83% on the same period last year. Now Sapporo is adding the new small size can, 250ml to the range. The other sizes already on the market are 350ml and 500ml cans.

Cranberry Wine
Kikkoman Corp. well known for soy sauce is also among the top wine brewers in Japan. Three new varieties have been added to the range of Japanese fruit wine under Kikkoman's Mans Wine brand. Grape and cranberry is white wine blended with cranberries rich in polyphenols, it has a light dry taste and a red color. Cranberries are in fashion just now because of their health benefits (prevention of urinary tract disease, prevention of aging). Grape and peach is a blend of quality white wine and peach wine, sweet and mellow flavor. Grape and apple is a blend of white wine and apple wine. A mellow flavor and aroma of apples. These are low-price wines with a sweet mouthfeel. Easy to buy small bottles, easy to drink. 250ml bottles Y230, 12 per case.

Novel Marketing of Coffee
Key Coffee Roots regular coffee is an innovative product because this new Roots brand is a joint agreement between two companies. Key Coffee has developed regular coffee products under this brand and Japan Tobacco has developed a canned coffee drink under the same brand. The new regular coffee products from Key Coffee are in three varieties: Roots Kaori-no Genten which means aroma is the starting point, Roots Koku-no Genten which means richness is the starting point and Drip On Kaori-no Genten the in-cup cassette version of the flavor is the starting point variety. 250g vacuum pack, no price quoted. Sales target Y800 million.

Cocoa Drink Mixes for Adults
In the past cocoa drinks were aimed at children. Then television programs promoting the health benefits of cocoa (dietary fiber, theobromine and polyphenols) turned cocoa into a drink for adults. Morinaga Milk Cocoa - Adult Type is a new cocoa, milk and sugar mix for preparing cocoa drinks for adults. It has a higher cocoa content and a less sweet taste. The cocoa content is increased by 60% and the sweetness reduced by 30%, compared with regular milk cocoa from Morinaga. Packed in handy single serving sachets. 8 x 23g sachets (184g) per gusset bag Y260, 20 per case.

Pear and Peach Fruit Juice Drink
Asahi Soft Drinks uses the Bireleys brand on this drink made with pear and peach juice in pure water. This fruit juice drink contains 10% mixed fruit juice. It is a balanced blend of Japanese pear and peach juices in pure water. Richly aromatic and fresh flavored pear juice is blended 4:1 with slightly sweet peach juice to produce a refreshing, lightly tangy flavor. The water is carefully cleaned and purified using filtration and ion exchange processing. This allows the authentic fruit flavor to be tasted fully. 350g can Y115, 24 per case, 500ml PET bottle Y140, 24 per case, 1.5 liter PET bottle Y330, 8 per case.

Functional Drinks
Demand for functional drinks remains strong generating hit products at regular intervals. TaKaRa Life Line is a new brand in functional drinks from Takara Shuzo which might well produce excellent sales. There are three varieties launched: Honejobu [strong bones] contains 300mg calcium per bottle plus CCM (calcium citrate malate) to promote calcium absorption, as well as isoflavone and magnesium. One pack contains 180mg calcium. The drink is lemon yogurt flavor. Cranberry Koka [efficacy of cranberries] is based on cranberry juice plus apple and orange juice. It is rich in natural polyphenols. The third drink is a Japanese apricot extract drink. All packed in 125ml brick cartons Y100, 36 per case.

Tea Drink Sweetened with Maple Syrup
The medium size dairy company Ohayo Nyugyo has launched Ohayo Royal Maple Tea. This black tea and milk drink is made with Darjeeling tea for quality flavor and aroma and fresh milk. It is sweetened with maple syrup to add a subtle sweetness. Fresh milk content 50% for a rich milk flavor. This is a rich and mild drink. Non-fat milk solids 4.3%, milk fat 1.8%. 200ml tall cup Y130, refrigerated storage.