Suntory Holdings has more than doubled sales projections for a new sour lemon beverage as Japan’s leading brewers dig deeper into the no- & low-alcohol segment.

The Tokyo-based group said the 2021 target for the drink, which was launched in March, is for 2m cases, up from an initial 980,000 cases. The beverage, which translated from Japanese is called ‘Evening Drink Lemon Sour Non-Alcoholic’, uses non-alcoholic flavouring extracts from shochu to give it the umami taste associated with the Japanese alcohol.

The revised sales target comes as Suntory rolls out a six-pack for the drink to target increasing consumer trends for bulk buying.

Japanese consumers are showing an increased interest in lemon sour flavoured drinks, and a number of brand owners have released products in the category. This year, Kirin launched a 7%-abv canned RTD sour, while Suntory’s Kodawari Sakaba no Lemon Sour reached sales of 58.7m litres in 2019 following its launch in March of that year.

Meanwhile, Japan’s no- & low-alcohol category is becoming increasingly competitive. Brewers including Suntory released their first non-alcoholic beers about a decade ago, but according to data from Suntory, the market volume has since grown about four-fold.

In recent months, the focus on no- & low- has intensified. In February, Asahi announced a plan to grow non-alcoholic beverages as part of a restructuring strategy to combat COVID sales declines.

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By GlobalData

In May, Kirin released a range of non-alcoholic sangrias.

Why brewers must not overlook their wider responsibilities in race for sales – Click here for a Just Drinks comment