The autumn months in Japan are from September to November, and grapes are considered a seasonal fruit in the country.
“White grapes [are the] seasonal food of autumn in Japan, [so] we thought of using this to [bring the taste of Japanese autumn] to consumers,” a Coca-Cola Japan spokeswoman told FoodNavigator-Asia in a statement.
The ‘fresh taste’ of the drink is also one of its major marketing points, with Coca-Cola Japan emphasising that it ‘makes one feel like they are drinking freshly squeezed grapes’, and that it is ‘sweet and refreshing but not so sweetened that it cannot be drank’.
The grape extract used is from high-quality Muscat White Shine Grapes, strictly sourced only from the Nagano Prefecture in Japan. According to The Japan Agricultural News, these Shine Muscat grapes are known for their sweetness, aroma and large fruit size.
ILOHAS White Grape is one of five permanent/available nationwide ILOHAS fruit flavours. The others are: Peach, Orange, Original and Lemon.
There are also three region-limited flavours which are Apple (Hokkaido, Nagano, Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Ishikawa, Toyama, Fukui only) Hascup/blue honeysuckle (Hokkaido only) and Blueberry (Tohoku only); as well as retailer-limited flavours Strawberry Milk (Family Mart only) and Pineapple (Seven & i-Holdings only), whereas its Mango flavour can only be found in vending machines.
ILOHAS White Grape is retailing at JPY 130 (US$1.20) for a 555ml bottle in Japan, but the firm has no plans to bring this beyond borders at the moment.
“[ILOHAS White Grape is a] Japan-only product and we don’t think [this will] be sold in other countries [in the near] future,” she said.
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The spokeswoman added that although this new launch is part of its fruity range, ILOHAS has its roots in mineral water.
“ILOHAS was originally a natural mineral water brand, although this launch is [fruity-water focused],” she said.
According to the ILOHAS website, in Japan ‘natural mineral water’ refers to drinking water that has ‘not been adjusted with inorganic salts added to the ingredients of raw water (groundwater)’, whereas non-groundwater-based waters are called ‘bottled water’.
ILOHAS’ natural mineral water falls into the first category, and is sourced from seven locations across the Hokkaido, Iwate, Toyama, Yamanashi, Tottori, Miyazaki and Kumamoto prefectures.
The four major minerals found in the water are calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, but at a low water hardness level (less than 100mg per litre of mineral).
“Soft water can pull out [the umami flavour] well without sacrificing the taste of the ingredients, [so] is suitable for cooking Japanese foods such as dashi, fish, vegetables, japonica rice. [It is also] ideal for green and black tea,” said ILOHAS.
“It is also suitable to be used in milk preparation as its mineral content will not place burden on the baby, and it has also undergone heat sterilisation during the manufacturing process.”
The brand also comprises sparkling sugar-free water, unsweetened natural mineral water with lemon, and glass-packaged sparkling water.