More formats, more sales: Kirin aims 20% growth in immune product users with brand collab

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Kirin's range of products containing LC-plasma.  ©Kirin
Kirin's range of products containing LC-plasma. ©Kirin

Related tags: Kirin, iMUSE, Npd

Kirin is aiming a 20 per cent growth in the number of regular consumers buying functional foods and drinks containing its immune health ingredient LC-plasma – and it is seeking to do so by working with brands that can incorporate the ingredient into various dosage formats.

Kirin’s latest brand partner is Nihon Yakken, which has launched an aojiru – a green vegetable juice – containing LC-plasma. The product, launched nationwide in Japan in March 28, is said to be the first aojiru added with LC-plasma. 

vegetable juice aojiru
Nihon Yakken's aojiru is the first to contain LC-plasma.

LC-plasma, also known as Lactococcus lactis strain Plasma (L. lactis strain Plasma), is Kirin’s proprietary functional ingredient and is said to confer immune health effects by stimulating the plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC).  

It is also incorporated into Kirin’s functional food and beverage brand iMUSE. This is a range of Foods with Function Claims (FFCs) that comes in various dosage formats, such as supplements, beverages, yogurt, and throat lozenges which could make immune health claims.

The company said in its FY2021 results that it aimed to increase the number of consumers regularly taking LC-plasma to 750k, which was about 20 per cent higher than the existing 580k regular users.

To expand its consumer reach, Kirin told NutraIngredients-Asia ​that it would work with other brands to offer LC-plasma in food categories that Kirin could not reach on its own.

“We expect that offering LC-Plasma through a variety of food products in categories that Kirin cannot reach on its own will be effective in fostering the iMUSE brand and LC-Plasma business.

“In addition, by joining forces with external partners, we will be able to accelerate instilling a daily ‘immune care’ habit in Japanese consumers,” ​Tatsuya Takada, manager, Corporate Communications, Kirin Holdings told us.

As for Kirin itself, it currently has 11 iMUSE products in total.

Its latest launch from the range is Morning Immune Care, a 100 ml yogurt-like drink containing LC-Plasma.

“Its size makes it easy to grab-and-go in the morning for people that visit convenience stores on the way to work. It is also a choice for mothers and young couples.

“This is another product that makes ‘immune care’ much more accessible to consumers,” ​Takada said.

He added that the firm would continue to search for new product categories to attract health-conscious individuals to consume products containing LC-plasma.

However, he pointed out that it might be challenging to incorporate LC-plasma in foods that have a manufacturing or cooking process that would expose it to high temperatures or strong acids to the extent that it would be destroyed.

Progress till date

In the past seven months between Sep 2021 and Mar 2022, a total of 14 new products containing LC-Plasma have been launched.

Of which, five were from Kirin and nine by other brands.

Examples of products​ launched by the other brands include a protein brownie bar and soy protein powder beverage by Morinaga.

Last year, the annual sales volume of beverages containing LC-Plasma in Japan was 5.34 million cases, an increase of approximately 70 per cent from the previous year.

Kirin said the plan this year was to sell 7,580,000 cases, up 45 per cent yoy.

On the other hand, LC-plasma related sales were up 56 per cent in 2021 and the plan for this year is to increase sales by about 40 per cent.

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