'Next Calbee' vision set to disrupt the snacks sector with 'light meals' and lifestyle-supported products

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Calbee is one of the largest snacks companies in the world. Pic: Calbee
Calbee is one of the largest snacks companies in the world. Pic: Calbee

Related tags Calbee vision Japan Sustainability women empowerment low sodium High protein Pepsico

The Japanese snack giant’s long-term vision harnesses the power of nature to create the snacks of tomorrow.

The £2.3bn global business – one of the largest snack companies in the world, employing more than 3,800 employees across 121 countries – has embarked on long-term vision, entitled ‘Next Calbee’, which aims to reform the snacks sector.

The Japanese maker of ‘buzzworthy’ snacks like chocolate-covered shrimp crackers and Honey Butter Chips has shifted its focus towards creating a portfolio of ‘fine snacks’: low-salt, energy-producing nutrient balanced ‘light meals’ that are tasty, fun and healthy to be enjoyed anytime and anywhere.

Novel products

Calbee also aims to increase its development of innovative foodstuffs derived from natural compounds by 2030, such as Nyumin, its first-ever edible sleep aid.

Nyumin is an orange-scented, dissolvable strip that contains crocetin – a chemical compound found naturally in crocus and gardenia flowers – which has been shown to improve sleep quality and lessen fatigue in clinical trials.

It took Calbee’s Future Labo (CFL) team almost three years to develop Nuymin, involving numerous surveys with people in their teens through 70s to pinpoint gaps in the market for new dietary products.

CFL is tasked to look outside the box – taking a different approach from Calbee’s internal R&D department – to develop new products to follow in the footsteps of Calbee’s numerous best-sellers, like Kappa Ebisen and Jagariko.

Its philosophy is ‘overwhelming customer orientation’, focused on not only food, but on the lifestyles of consumers and creating products that involve all five of the senses.

Calbee's Nyumin

After zeroing in on the need for more solutions to target sleep disparities within the general population, the next step was to eliminate any and all hurdles for consumption among consumers of all ages, so the CFL team created the strip that dissolves instantly on the tongue, ingested directly before sleeping.

Calbee is currently trialling Nyumin on Japanese crowdfunding site Makuake, with plans to roll out the product in stores across Japan early in 2021.

Under the Next Calbee initiative, the snacks giant – which has established revenue-generating bases in four key regions (UK, US, China and Indonesia) – is on a mission to push its established portfolio to new markets around the globe, but also to drive new partnerships with other manufacturers to adapt its snacks and co-create new ones to suit the tastes of the different markets.

Its link with PepsiCo – which owns 20% of Calbee’s shares – will enable it to tap into the global powerhouse’s resources to form new alliances and foray into new categories and markets.

It is also considering an online-to-offline business model to reach more consumers.

“We need to strengthen our sales network to bring forth our innovation and research and development processes to the world,”​ said Shuji Ito, Calbee’s president and CEO.

Sustainable society

While the initiative has set its sights on increasing its portfolio with novel products by 20% and its overseas portfolio by 40% within the next decade, Calbee is firmly rooted in achieving a sustainable society.

According to Ito, its research-driven business starts at ground level (literally).

“Everything comes from the soil, so we support and enhance crop production to make the raw materials better and tastier,”​ he said.

“Calbee harvests the power of nature. We have always done this in Japan and we would like to expand it to other countries.”

It aims to source 400,000 tons of potatoes domestically; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and food waste by 20%; and target more than 400,000 consumers in food education activities such as Calbee snack school and factory tours.

The company has also pledged to reduce the sodium content of its entire portfolio by 20% and increase the number of protein-rich offerings by 10% by 2030.

In a commitment towards inclusion and women empowerment, the company said it will increase its female manager ratio by over 30% by the fiscal year ending 31 March 2022.

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