Launched on April 15, the sugar-free flavoured water contains only mineral water, lemon juice, and lemon flavour extract.
Its launch was meant to provide a healthier alternative, a company spokesman told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Our target is to get consumers to drink more mineral water and to do so, we are providing them with more options.
“Recently, consumers are also demanding for more better-for-you products, and they tend not to consume sweet drinks. Thus, we think that there are business opportunities for sugar-free products,” he added.
With a per bottle serving of 555ml, the new product is sold at JPY$120 (US$1).
I LOHAS is an acronym for lifestyles of health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2009, mineral water that comes in aloe, tomato, peach, apple, and pear flavours have been launched. In 2014 and 2016, the brand also brought in $1bn in retail sales.
The new sugar-free flavoured water has a similar concept to “the lemon water that cafes and restaurants” are serving, the spokesman added.
Moving forward, the firm would provide “more new options to encourage consumers to drink mineral water”, he said.
Flavoured water market
Coca-Cola Japan and Suntory are two of the largest flavoured mineral water manufacturers in Japan.
For Suntory, its flagship brand Suntory Tennensui include products such as the yogurt flavoured water – “Yogurina & Suntory Tennesui”, “Aza-zumi Orange & Suntory Tennnensui”, and “Suntory Tennensui Premium Morning Tea Lemon”.
In 2016, the Suntory Tennsui was also the first brand to achieve annual sales of 100m cases under Suntory’s soft drink business.
In response to queries from FoodNavigator-Asia, a Suntory’s spokeswoman said that beverage consumption in Japan had shifted from juice to water and tea, which explained the popularity of flavoured mineral water.
“For decades, the growth of the world beverage market was driven by consumer demand for carbonated soft drinks containing sugar. In recent years, there has been a trend towards less sugar with a growing health awareness.
“Beverage consumption has shifted from juice to water and tea. Consumers are demanding for more water and tea options. Therefore, we have developed flavoured water to meet these needs,” the spokeswoman said.
She added that consumers in their 30s and 40s were the major consumers of Suntory’s flavoured mineral water products.