According to Nestle Japan, the market for plant-based foods and beverages is rapidly growing locally, particularly amongst consumers interested in healthy food and lifestyle, or in ethical consumption, a key driver for the firm to get in on the trend.
“[Research has shown that] the domestic market has grown significantly with a gain of 9% year-on-year to JPY211bn in FY2019, and [there was] an estimated 11% increase to JPY233bn in FY2020 - Some estimates suggest that this could expand to JPY291bn in five years,” a Nestle Japan spokesman told FoodNavigator-Asia via an email statement.
“[We have launched] the Nescafe Plant-Based Latte range [and also] two Starbucks consumer packaged goods (CPG) plant-based products [in order] to meet the rapidly growing interest in plant-based food and drinks in Japan. Like many other markets, Japan [is seeing these products] capture the attention of consumers, corresponding to the increased consciousness to health and sustainability
“The main consumers we are targeting are those with high interest in health and beauty, and are looking for healthier, tastier, sustainable choices [to suit their lifestyles].”
Coffee is one of the most-consumed beverages in Japan, with research showing that 21.8% of local consumers drink this once daily, over 39% two to three times daily, and 10.7% four times a day or more – exhibiting just how much potential there is to be found in this beverage market.
As such, Nestle Japan has focused its plant-based efforts on coffee, and particularly on making sure that plant-based variants are available under different well-known coffee brands, in a wide range of consumption formats and with different plant-based milk options available.
Case in point, the new NESCAFE Plant-Based Latte range comprises two main types of products – Oat Latte and Almond Latte, and under each of these there are four consumption formats available: 190ml RTD beverages, 1L RTD beverages, soluble powder mixes, and capsules for the NESCAFE Dolce Gusto system.
“We chose oat and almond because we found both of these are [the plant-based milks that can be] blended perfectly with smooth NESCAFÉ coffee,” he said.
“With two varieties, consumers can choose whether they want to enjoy their coffee with the rich oaty aroma of oat milk, or the creaminess of almond milk.”
As for the Starbucks range, the main focus will be on soluble powder mixes. Oat milk will still be one of the selections, but soy milk will be the other as Starbucks in Japan already allows dairy milk to be replaced with soy milk for an extra charge in foodservice outlets, a popular option that the CPG products will carry on.
“The Starbucks CPG plant-based products will comprise of two SKUs - Starbucks Premium Mixes Silky Soy Latte and Starbucks Premium Mixes Toasted Oat Latte. Both will be available as four-stick packs,” said Nestle Japan.
The NESCAFE soluble powder mix will also be in a pack of four sticks, and retail for JPY 429, the 190ml RTD beverage will retail for JPY213, the 1L for JPY537, and the capsules for JPY1,274 for 12 cups – the Oat Latte capsule will be released later on April 5. All products will be available in major supermarkets nationwide as well as online platforms.
Nestle has two major plant-based manufacturing plants in the Asia Pacific region, one in China and one in Malaysia, but Nestle Japan has revealed that apart from the NESCAFE Dolce Gusto capsules, all the other NESCAFE plant-based products will be exclusively local from production to retail.
“We manufacture the RTD beverages and soluble mixes locally in Japan, and these will only be available in the Japanese market – we cannot disclose the detailed sources of ingredients, but the manufacturing will be in Japan,” said the firm.
The NESCAFE Dolce Gusto capsules will be imported from the UK and also be available in other international markets