Japan Focus: Soy beverage labelling rules, peanut butter, functional yoghurt and more Japanese news feature in our round-up

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Soy beverage labelling rules, peanut butter, functional yoghurt and more Japanese news feature in this edition of Japan Focus. ©Getty Images
Soy beverage labelling rules, peanut butter, functional yoghurt and more Japanese news feature in this edition of Japan Focus. ©Getty Images

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Soy beverage labelling rules, peanut butter, functional yoghurt and more Japanese news feature in this edition of Japan Focus.

Soy decrees: Japan enforces stricter labelling rules for beverages to cut fraudulent claims and ensure fair trade

Japan has announced stricter labelling regulations for soybean milk and other soy-related beverages with the aim of preventing fraudulent or exaggerated claims and ensure fair competition between brands in the very competitive local market.

Soybean milk is a very popular beverage in Japan due to the presence of a large lactose intolerant population - with some researchers estimating this to be as high as 90% - as well as the gradual rise in demand for plant-based beverage options.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) and Consumer Affairs Agency (CAA) recently issued stricter labelling rules for soy milks and beverages, covering both liquid and powdered forms of these.

“These new labelling rules will be enforced under the Fair Competition Code to prevent unreasonable marketing to and attraction of consumers [by the product brands], so as to ensure consumers are able to make thoroughly voluntary and rational choices when purchasing soy beverages,”​ said both agencies via a joint statement.

Building back butter? Nepali peanut butter brand Sanchai targets post-COVID exports recovery

Nepalese peanut butter brand Sanchai, that was founded to provide much needed jobs for women, is seeking to bounce back from its COVID-19 slowdown by exporting to Singapore and exploring market opportunities in the United States.

Established by Japanese entrepreneur Naka Kotobuki, the firm started selling natural peanut butter and a sugar-free version in 2018.

The peanuts are locally grown in Khotang, a district at the foot of the Himalayan mountains with an altitude of 1,500 to 1,800m, and processed at Sanchai’s factory also in Khotang.In Nepal, the products are sold at some supermarkets and grocery stores in Kathmandu, with tourists its main clientele. The firm also exports to Japan, Kotobuki’s home country, via its e-commerce store.

She said: In Nepal, not many people eat peanut butter. But, Nepal attracts many tourists who enjoy it, so we thought it could be a good souvenir for them​.”

Meiji’s market insights: Functional yogurt sales continue to slide, but sports nutrition on a surge

Meiji’s sales of functional yogurt in Japan have been declining due to the levelling of demand and an intensifying market competition, but sports nutrition is on the up, the firm has revealed.

Net sales of functional yogurt dropped 12 per cent to JPY$24.2bn (US$209m) as compared to Q3 FY2020.

The reduction in functional yogurt sales has also dragged down the company’s overall sales and operating profit of its yogurt and cheese business by 7.9 per cent and 26.7 per cent in Q1-Q3 FY2021 as compared to the same period in FY2020. 

Craft and care: Kirin Brewery to focus on craft beer growth, beverage unit targets immunity boost

Kirin Brewery and Kirin Beverage have announced their respective business strategy for the year ahead, with the former focusing on strengthening its craft beer sales, and the latter on growing its immune care pillar.

Japan is in the process of revising taxes across liquor products, by reducing taxes on regular beer (50% malt or more) and increasing taxes for RTD (canned cocktails), wine, alongside so-called ‘new genre’ and happoshu products. The aim is to unify taxes across the categories by October 2026, which is expected to drive demand for beer in Japan.

Health foods advice: Majority surveyed in Japan are not aware of Health Support Pharmacies

Almost nine-out-of-10 people surveyed online in Japan have not heard of Health Support Pharmacies (HSPs), a new category of pharmacies that provide consultations on diet, nutrition, health foods and nursing care, alongside prescription medication.

Among the 10,000 respondents, only 2.6% knew what HSPs were, while just 9.2% said they have heard of them.

Despite the low awareness of HSPs, 44% of respondents desired to use HSPs in the future, after the services were explained to them.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Biomedical Innovation, Health and Nutrition in Tokyo, Japan who conducted this survey said it was important to increase the awareness of HSPs, amid growing usage of health foods.

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