A new cola flavor of the Mets brand has won the Japanese government approval for its health-enhancing claims, and is helping to shore up the carbonates category.
Launched in April 2012 by Kirin Beverage Co, Mets Cola has become the first ever carbonate to win government approval as a “tokuho” drink, which deems it has gained recognition from the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency for its specific health benefits.
The drink contains a nutrient called indigestible dextrin, which restricts the absorption of fat from food intake, and the drink has quickly turned into a hit product in Japan.
“What’s really exciting about Mets Cola is that it joins a growing number of functional carbonates, targeted to adult consumers, which are helping to shape new segmentation and give new value to consumers,” says beverage analyst Erica Shaw.
Producers in Japan have attempted to create a more positive image for carbonates, with various sugar-free and zero-calorie offerings.
Canadean says Mets Cola goes one step further by including a health benefit.
“Diet-related tokuho drinks were already available on the market, but only in the iced tea drinks category,” says Shaw.
“With Mets cola, such an unexpected combination of a carbonated beverage and tokuho approval is ground-breaking and expected to yield further products in coming years.”
Health benefits have been a key trend in commercial beverages for years, according to the Canadean report entitled Japan soft drinks market insights 2013 in June 2013.
This has intensified, as the Japanese government and media, concerned over growing national medical expenses in an ageing society, continue to emphasize the importance of staying healthy by having regular medical check-ups and avoiding lifestyle-related diseases.
Other producers have been following the trend such as from PepsiCo, which has introduced its tokuho cola in Japan called Pepsi Special.
Canadean expects more tokuho products to arrive and to expand the market, as they command higher prices and are clearly distinguishable by health-conscious consumers.