To kickstart this, the company is launching Beery, a 0.5% alcoholic beer-tasting drink in March 2021 in Tokyo and several other prefectures, followed by a nationwide launch in June.
The drink will be available in supermarkets, convenience stores and off-trade outlets.
In Japan, Beery is categorised as a carbonated drink instead of an alcohol because it is less than 1% ABV, and therefore is not subject to the liquor tax.
According to Asahi Group Holdings’ PR manager Kristin Chiu, Beery’s target consumers are sober-curious adults, who do not drink much.
“In addition, we can see consumers these days prefer drinking alcohol in a more variety and diverse way. Therefore, Asahi Breweries would like to provide more choices to consumers with low-alcohol and slight-alcohol products.”
It took the company three and a half years to develop Beery, using a technology to reduce the alcohol content, yet maintain the beer taste.
At the moment, there is no plan to export the product.
As part of its Smart Drinking announcement in December, Asahi will also start publishing information on alcohol per gram in their main products in Japan by mid-2021.
Asahi has several non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic products below 3.5% Abv such as Slat, Cocktail Partner and kajitsunoshunkan Mikan.
New drinking experience
This year, the company is also hoping to elevate drinking experiences for consumers at home, as Japan extends its second state of emergency due to the pandemic.
Asahi will launch a new extension product of its core brand Asahi SuperDry, the Asahi SuperDry NAMAJOKKIKAN which is a canned beer, touted to taste like the draft beers served at restaurants.
“From our research, consumers are not satisfied with canned beer they drink at home because they consider the beer they drink in restaurants in JOKKI (mug in Japanese) more tasty and exciting,” Chiu told us.
“Asahi SuperDry NAMAJOKKIKAN adopts the can which can be full-open so people can drink it like with a beer mug. Also, we add special material inside the can so the beer bubble foam will generate by itself. The creamy beer bubble foam will make you feel like you are drinking draft beer in restaurants.”
Asahi SuperDry NAMAJOKKIKAN was developed after four years of R&D.
It will be released in April 2021 in Japan.
Its flagship brand Asahi Super Dry sold 65,170,000 cases (1 case = 12.66 liter) in 2020, 12% below the previous year’s sales. The decrease is due to the drop of sales mainly in the on-trade market.