Sweet sleep: Japan’s Ezaki Glico sees strong demand for rest-supporting GABA chocolate

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Mental Balance Chocolate GABA Box type (left) and new 12.5g packaging (right) ©Ezaki Glico
Mental Balance Chocolate GABA Box type (left) and new 12.5g packaging (right) ©Ezaki Glico

Related tags Japan Ezaki Glico Chocolate Sleep FFC

Japanese confectionery company Ezaki Glico has reported strong demand for its Mental Balance Chocolate GABA for Sleep, which carries a food with function claim (FFC).

Launched last year, the product is the latest addition to the company’s GABA lineup, which includes its flagship Mental Balance Chocolate GABA released in 2005. This is also a FFC product and it claims to ease stress and support a relaxed mind. They come in milk and dark chocolate flavours.

Both products contain the amino acid, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), although Mental Balance Chocolate GABA for Sleep contains 100mg of GABA per 12.5g of product, more than the flagship product’s 28mg of GABA per 10g.

Sweet dreams

According to a Euromonitor report​ on sleep aids, most Japanese prefer to deal with their sleeping problems naturally first, before turning to OTC sleep medications. This means reconsidering their daily lifestyles, such as exploring more natural remedies.

Yuko Yamagami from the marketing division at Ezaki Glico told NutraIngredients-Asia​ that sales had far exceeded its forecast. “From September to December 2019, we have achieved sales of 3.8 times than expected, and sales are continuing to grow​.”

The company added the product seemed particularly popular among male customers in their 20s to 30s, and female customers in their 20s to 50s.

Consumers of all ages purchase this product, for the purpose of having a great night's sleep and the best way to wake up​,” Yamagami said.

Research review evidence

In the CAA notification​, it claimed to have a function to improve the quality of sleep, including increasing the duration of deep sleep and offering a clearer wake-up state.

Its functionality was evaluated through research reviews on its functional component, and not the final product.

Data from four randomised controlled trials were selected, which involved healthy people who consumed foods containing γ-aminobutyric acid and people who consumed foods that did not contain γ-aminobutyric acid.

The studies revealed that consuming of 100 mg of γ-aminobutyric acid in foods had an effect on increasing deep sleep, and improved mood upon waking, as compared to the control group.

New packaging

Owing to strong demand, the company has added a new smaller packaging format for business use, targeting hotels and the hospitality sector. Each pack (12.5g) contains six pieces of chocolate and 100mg of GABA. Previously, they were available in 50g boxes.

The recommended intake of Mental Balance Chocolate GABA for Sleep is three pieces per day.

Last year, the firm also released a functional coffee​, Cafeore Yuru-release drink, which contains 28mg of GABA for temporary stress relief.

These health benefits have not been verified by the Japanese government.

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