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ITO EN, a key player in Japan’s beverage industry, innovates the market with the launch of two premium beverages with bite-sized pieces in SIG SmileSmall carton packs, made possible by the SIG Drinksplus technology integrated in the SIG SmileSmall 24 Aseptic filling machine.

The two new products from ITO EN are Crunchy Smoothie, a carrot smoothie with carrot pieces, and Crispy Potage, a creamy tomato potage with onion bits. Unlike traditional juices and smoothies, both products stand out with the inclusion of real vegetable pieces which provide ITO EN’s consumers with a unique and premium drinking experience. Both new products in convenient on-the-go SIG SmileSmall carton packs are aimed to help ITO EN to capture a bigger share of the veggie juice market in Japan, currently one of the fastest growing categories in the beverage industry.

Tetsuo Yamaguchi, Brand Manager at ITO EN: “Our new products provide our consumers with a refreshingly different drinking experience – rich and satisfying with the incorporation of real vegetable pieces. The novel packaging solution and the filling technology from SIG, that allows these inclusions to be added, enables our consumers to easily supplement their vegetable intake anytime and anywhere. The SIG SmileSmall carton pack is a real eye-catcher with its curved, modern shape and easy-grip corners. It differentiates and the end result is a successful fusion of exceptional packaging and products.”

As well as being easy to carry, handle and store, and like all SIG carton packs, SIG SmileSmall carton packs are ‘sustainable by nature’, with a high share of forest-based renewable materials, 100% of the paperboard procured with FSC™-certification, a lightweight and space-saving design, produced using 100% renewable electricity, and designed to be fully recyclable. SIG aseptic carton packs are the proven lowest carbon footprint packaging choice compared with alternative packaging options*.

Angela Lu, President & General Manager Asia Pacific at SIG: “In Japan, it is vital for food and beverage companies like ITO EN to innovate the market with healthy and high-quality products, particularly for on-the-go consumption. Our SIG Drinksplus technology offers the opportunity to add value to healthy beverages with the inclusion of pieces of fruit, vegetables, nuts, or cereals, which can be easily filled into our convenient on-the-go carton packs. It opens up a plethora of new opportunities to transform and drive forward the Japanese beverage market.”


In line with its goal to transition to 100 % recycled and plant-based PET bottles by 2030, the Suntory Group unveiled a prototype PET bottle made from 100 % plant-based materials partnership. The prototype bottle was developed in collaboration with US-based Anellotech for Suntory’s Orangina and Tennensui soft drinks brands in the European and Japanese markets, respectively. Given Suntory’s claims that its plant-based bottle overcomes several issues associated with bioplastics, it represents a step forward for the beverages industry towards the holy grail of biodegradable packaging, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Compostable/biodegradable plastics are presently a lower priority than recyclable packaging for Japanese consumers validated by as GlobalData’s Q3 2021 consumer survey. Only 30 % of Japanese respondents in the survey consider compostable/biodegradable an important factor in a product, when compared with 63 % of respondents who prioritize easy to recycle products*.

Verghese continues: “This is partly as consumers are disillusioned by earlier plant-based packaging innovations such as Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle, which failed to take off after the initial hype due to functional and cost challenges. Also, a large section of consumers are unsure how the biodegradable bottles will safeguard its contents.”

While bioplastics are touted as the penultimate solution for the plastic waste problem, most products have hitherto failed to match the performance of conventional oil-based plastics. Additionally, the cost of raw materials and overhauling existing manufacturing lines to accommodate bioplastics remain quite prohibitive. Moreover, bioplastics degrade only under specific ambient conditions, thereby posing an environmental threat. Furthermore, cultivating crops for producing bioplastics locks up agricultural land that could otherwise be used for food production.

Suntory claims its bioplastic material is made from two compounds, namely PTA and MEG, which are made from non-food biomass and non-food-grade feedstock, respectively, which minimizes its impact on the food chain. The plant-based bottle is claimed to be generate far lower carbon emissions than petroleum-derived plastic bottles.

Verghese concludes: “Suntory’s plant-based bottle can attract 39 % of Japanese consumers who consider products with reduced carbon footprint to be quite/extremely important, and 41 % of consumers who say the same for products that are sustainable/made from renewable sources*. However, the pros and cons of the bioplastic will only come to light after the full-fledged market launch.”

*Data taken from GlobalData’s Q3 2021 Consumer Survey – Japan with 527 respondents, published in September 2021

The fruit, starch and sugar group AGRANA is extending its presence in Asia and acquiring the fruit preparations business of the local food producer Taiyo Kagaku Co. Ltd. AGRANA Fruit Japan Ltd. will be starting with the production of fruit preparations on 1 April and therefore now includes a fourth Asian country in addition to China, India and South Korea. As the global leader in fruit preparations, AGRANA now maintains 26 production sites in 20 countries.

The fruit preparations plant in question is located in Yokkaichi, in southern Japan, around 100 km east of Osaka. From there it will supply customers in Japan’s bakery products sector as well as dairies and ice cream producers. Japan has a constantly growing market for fruit preparations with a volume of around 60,000 metric tons and forecast annual growth of 2-3 % a year.

“The acquisition of this Japanese fruit preparations plant from TAIYO is an important step as part of our expansion in Asia. The growing Japanese market for fruit preparations is characterised by high quality demands and innovations. This ties in perfectly with our high quality standards and the innovative direction as the global market leader in the fruit segment, where we satisfy the needs of our customers with a wide portfolio – ranging from standard fruit preparations for yoghurts and ice creams to premium-segment fruit solutions such as sauces, condiments, fillings and smoothie bases,” explains the CEO of AGRANA Beteiligungs-AG, Johann Marihart.

Fruit preperations at AGRANA
AGRANA’s fruit preparations contain top quality fruit which is either puréed or diced and used in dairy products or in the ice cream and bakery products industries. These products are individually designed by AGRANA on the basis of close development-related collaborations with customers. In addition to fruit preparations, AGRANA also offers innovative preparations with “brown flavours” such as caramel, coffee or vanilla as well as so-called inclusions (e.g. chocolate balls). In addition to the food processing industry, AGRANA also supplies its fruit preparations to fast-food companies and food service providers.

T. Hasegawa announced the release of their Japanese citrus flavour portfolio. T. Hasegawa’s Japanese heritage combined with their team of highly skilled flavour chemists carefully crafted a rich array of sweet, sour, tart and refreshing Japanese citrus flavours that are grown and harvested across the country of Japan.

Each citrus in the collection has a distinctive taste and aroma that will enhance a variety of products from beverages, bakery, dressings, dairy, frozen desserts, sauces, seasonings, snacks and much more. The portfolio includes the following flavour profiles available in water-soluble, oil-soluble and powder form.

Yuzu – Versatile with sour, tart notes and resembles a grapefruit with a hint of mikan orange.

Sudachi – Slightly spicy, sharp, with a tangy taste accented by bergamot notes.

Kabosu – Mild juiciness with a slight metallic note and is an ideal replacement for lime in fish and meats.

Mikan – Fresh, sweet with a juicy character and ideal for the North American palate.

Shikuwasa – A rich citrus flavor with a sour taste and lends itself well to desserts, chips, sweets, juices, jams, dressings and alcoholic beverages.

Iyokan – Sweet and sour profile and can be used as an alternative to orange in confectionery and dessert.

Natsumikan – Slightly bitter, sour and juicy, which makes the perfect accompaniment for dessert and herbal sparkling beverages.

Hassaku – Characterized by its crisp, fresh floral and grapefruit-like notes this citrus.

“The flavours of Japan are often a source of flavour inspiration for product developers across the globe and continue to show strong market growth” says Doug Resh, Director Commercial Marketing. “We are excited to provide our customers on-trend flavours that will elevate and deliver a unique twist to their brand.”

Yuzu in particular has opened up the world to Japanese citrus profiles. Over the last several years, Western chefs featured yuzu as an aromatic and flavourful ingredient in Japanese-inspired dishes; while consumer packaged foods companies featured yuzu in sweets, sauces, vinegars and RTD beverages

According to Mintel, demand for Japanese food increased in the United States by 19.1 % between 2015-2018. With consumers continuing to experience a stronger desire to travel during quarantine, authentic and functional ingredients with engaging stories can quell the frustrations of staying put. Consuming world cuisine offers a substitute for travel, encourages experimentation and it’s easy on the wallet as an affordable excitement.

About T. Hasegawa USA Inc.
Being a global top-10 flavor and fragrance company, T. Hasegawa continues to pioneer the flavour industry with a customer experience that is optimized to rapidly respond with technical expertise. We deliver superior products that meet all your requirements no matter how complex the demand. Recognizing that the food industry needs flexibility, we proactively listen to our customers’ needs in an effort to develop better ways of delivering formulations that have excellent taste and aroma to fit form and function.

  • Gerald McDonald Ltd wins Japanese deal selling £500,000 worth of organic juices
  • The Department for International Trade helped the company attend trade shows in Japan where it acquired new customers
  • The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement concluding earlier this month means 99 % of UK goods exported to Japan will be tariff-free

An Essex-based drink supplier that was founded over a century ago has secured a £500,000 deal to sell its organic fruit juices to Japanese businesses through to April 2021.

Founded by spice trader Gerald McDonald in 1917, the self-named business is now managed by his grandson Gerald and great-grandson Maxim. From its headquarters in Basildon, the juices are exported to over 20 countries, with international sales accounting for 20 % of Gerald McDonald’s £27 million average turnover.

This latest Japanese deal was secured after the Department for International Trade (DIT) assisted the company to attend trade shows and meetings in Japan, where it met new customers. In 2016, Gerald McDonald opened an office in Kobe and DIT is currently providing advice on trademark registration in the country.

Marketing Director at Gerald McDonald, Maxim McDonald: “We are proud to be a British family business and to keep the legacy of my great-grandfather going. Japan has been our biggest exporting step; it is an exciting market and our future focus. It is going to be big for our business and we are in the process of developing our website for future online sales in Japan.”

Gerald McDonald also exports its popular Japanese Yuzu juice outside of Japan and creates bespoke juice mixes at its headquartered blending facility.

On 11 September, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced an agreement in principle of the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the UK’s first free trade agreement since leaving the EU.

East of England exporters of food and drink, which were worth over £33 million to Japan last year stand to benefit from reductions in tariffs and red tape as part of this deal.

Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss: “The trade deal we signed with Japan was a historic moment and will offer tariff-free trade on 99 % of UK exports to Japan, creating new opportunities for people in the East of England and helping level up the whole country. It will help businesses like Gerald McDonald sell more of their fantastic produce to the world’s third largest economy and encourage more of our small companies do the same. More trade and investment is crucial to overcoming the economic challenges of Coronavirus and supporting UK jobs.”

The UK also plans to become a member of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which will open up 11 key pacific markets for UK exporters, reducing tariffs for UK business (95 % of goods traded between members are tariff-free).

Moriyama first to run commercial production using SIG filling technology in Japan

Tokyo-based 50-50 joint venture DNP • SIG Combibloc Co., Ltd has announced that pioneering dairy manufacturer Moriyama is the first customer in Japan to run commercial production using SIG filling technology and the first to offer premium ready-to-drink (RTD) products in SIG carton packs locally filled in Japan.

Japan is one of the most competitive and highly developed markets for food and beverages in the world, with innovation being the key to success. Food safety and quality is of paramount importance with extremely high requirements on both aseptic and industrial standards. SIG’s market entry in Japan with Moriyama clearly demonstrates such high-quality standards, for both filling technology and packaging.

Moriyama’s new premium RTD products, in combifitMidi and combiblocMidi 1000 ml aseptic carton packs from SIG, will be filled at the company’s production plant in Kanagawa Prefecture on a CFA 812 filling machine from SIG. The new products, including cocoa, organic tea and organic coffee, and packaging fit perfectly within Moriyama’s extensive and diverse product portfolio, offering a high level of differentiation in such a mature and challenging environment.

Moriyama is also an important co-packer within the Japanese market and the new filling technology from SIG will benefit this side of its business, helping to expand its market position in the longer term.

DNP • SIG Combibloc Co., Ltd and Moriyama work together on product innovation and differentiation as part of SIG’s Value Proposition, which aims to deliver innovative product and packaging solutions that enable businesses to satisfy ever-changing needs.

Starbucks Coffee Japan, Ltd. announced that it will eliminate single-use plastic straws from nearly 1,500 stores across Japan and begin providing paper straws to customers starting in January 2020. The new paper straws are made from responsibly-sourced paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC), available in standard sizes for iced beverages and large sizes for Frappuccino® blended beverages.

The new standard-sized paper straws will be available in select stores beginning in January, with a complete rollout to all stores across the Japan market by March. Large-sized straws for Frappuccino blended beverages will be available in all store by May. All paper straws will come in paper packaging with positive messages about sustainability.

“Since we announced our global commitment to eliminate single-use plastic straws across all stores by the end of 2020, Starbucks Japan has focused tirelessly on finding a straw alternative that meets our quality standards,” said Takafumi Minaguchi, representative director and ceo, Starbucks Japan. “We’re pleased to announce that we’ve achieved our goal. As technologies and innovations evolve, we see opportunities to continue to develop the premium Starbucks Experience our customers love in a sustainable way.”

Starbucks continues to explore innovative ways to reduce single-use plastics in stores throughout Japan. Since the first store opened in Ginza, Tokyo in 1996, Starbucks stores in Japan have offered a 20 yen discount for customers who bring their own cups or tumblers.

The PET bottle has emerged as the preferred packaging for drinks among Japanese millennials due to its ease of use and eco-friendly nature. Against this backdrop, beverage giant Suntory Beverage & Food Limited (SBF) is looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of this packaging format to drive ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee sales amid a shrinking RTD market in Japan, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to the company’s report: Success Case Study: Suntory Craft Boss – Craft-style ready-to-drink coffee resonates with Japan’s Millennials, Japan is the largest RTD coffee market in the world, selling 3,574 million liters in 2017. However, the market volume growth in Japan has been slow in recent years and is expected to decline at a compound annual growth rate of -0.89 % between 2017 and 2022. On the other hand, GlobalData’s Market Analyzer reveals that the percentage of sales of PET bottled RTD tea & coffee has increased by 2.81 % from 6,659.30 million liters in 2017 to 6,851.58 million liters in 2018.

Suntory launched Craft Boss, a new range of RTD coffee under the Suntory Boss brand, in April 2017. The Craft Boss range is sold in PET bottles rather than metal cans to offer new consumption experience to millennial consumers.

Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer Insights Analyst at GlobalData, says: “The company’s move to launch craft-style coffee drinks in a PET bottle format is part of strategic product positioning to tap new consumer groups, particularly millennials. This clearly demonstrates that it has understood the importance of innovation in terms of appeal and packaging format, in line with the demographic changes in Japan.”

Craft Boss PET bottled coffee series crossed 27 million cases in 2018. It was the biggest driver of Boss coffee sales, which crossed 100 million cases last year. The success of this series helped Suntory compensate decline in other products, with a very strong growth of 8 million cases in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Sachdeva concludes: “Suntory is one of the first major manufacturers to react to the slow market growth of RTD coffee in Japan. The company has quickly identified the market gap and is catering to the evolving demands of the white-collar millennials to take advantage of the appealing market segment. Simply put, the company used incremental innovation and customer-centric strategy to gain a clear, competitive edge over rivals.”

Greater differentiation and added value in the Japanese aseptic carton market

Tokyo-based Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP) and SIG have signed a joint venture agreement which will bring new value added carton packaging and filling technology solutions to the Japanese food and beverage industry. The 50-50 joint venture will be established as of April 1, 2018, under the name of DNP • SIG Combibloc Co., Ltd., located in Tokyo.

More differentiation

The main focus of the partnership is to provide greater differentiation and added value in the field of carton packaging, technology and services for the food and beverages industry in Japan.

Souichiro Nishitani, Corporate Officer and General Manager of Packaging Operations at DNP said: “The huge variety offered by the packaging system from SIG will enrich the Japanese market and offer clear added value for beverage manufacturers and consumers alike. The aim of our joint venture is to be Japan’s number 2 in aseptic carton packs by 2022.”

Rolf Stangl, Chief Executive Officer at SIG added: “It is an exciting moment in our company’s history. For many years we’ve looked into entering this big and promising market together with a perfect partner. We’ve now found this with DNP. Together with DNP, we are bringing innovative solutions to the food and beverage industry in Japan for current and next generation products.”

Throughout its history DNP, one of the world’s largest printing industry manufacturers, has successfully established a multitude of business operations. For example, DNP has been developing and marketing carton packs and filling systems for alcoholic beverages and soft drinks in Japan since 1978. Many food and beverage manufacturers are also using DNP’s aseptic PET filling system. The company is ideally positioned in Japan, with substantial experience in the field of aseptic technology through its network of highly-qualified service technicians and established connections with all major companies in the food and beverage industry.