The unsweetened tea product Taiyo no Matecha, which the company launched this week, is produced from the tea leaves of a South American tree Yerba Mate.
Japan’s tea market is currently dominated by green, oolong and blended teas, Coca-Cola said, and the launch of Taiyo no Matecha aims to “cultivate a completely new category within the unsweetened tea market.”
This marks part of Coca-Cola’s wider growth strategy in Japan, focused on “innovation and sustainability,” Kanako Ogata, communications officer at Coca-Cola Japan, told FoodNavigator-Asia.
Coca-Cola noted the product, which is a new flavour for Japanese consumers, has been formulated to cater to the local palate through a roasting of the tea leaves.
The product is also nutritionally rich, it said, containing vitamin C and up to 25 times more dietary fibres and calcium than lettuce.
Tea, water & energy
Coca-Cola’s latest launch comes after a strong 2011 in Japan, with the biggest drivers I LOHAS mineral water and Ayataka green tea, Ogata said.
Ayataka now holds the third highest market share nationwide, she said. “We consider that the product features and distinct taste has been communicated in a persuasive way and the effectiveness of the advertising campaign contributed to the positive growth of the brand.”
I LOHAS mineral water is also popular with its good-tasting, eco-friendly concept resonating with consumers, she said.
Coca-Cola Japan also launched a new energy drink range earlier this month targeting ‘tired’ workers and young people, Ogata said.
Meeting minds with mate
Coca-Cola’s strategy is to raise the profile of mate tea in Japan by investing capital into marketing linking the product to the Latin American lifestyle.
‘Mate’ tea is a popular choice in South America, Coca-Cola Japan said, often consumed with meat and linked to vitality and wellbeing; two factors that will underpin the marketing.
Meat consumption is a growing trend which has surpassed fish consumption since 2006, according to nutrition surveys conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the company said, and so the product will be well-suited to local eating habits.
“Mate is also a part of the exuberant and optimistic lifestyle of South American people, which complements the current mood in Japan where people seek to recover their vitality and confidence,” Coca-Cola Japan added.