Japan. Alcohol: the craving for lemon explodes
Drinks based on this citrus fruit undermine the beer, which has dropped dramatically in popularity
In Japan, especially among young people, the desire for more or less alcoholic lemon-flavored drinks has exploded, which in a short time replaced the commercial vacuum left by beer, which precipitated ruinously in the general approval rating.
And the producers are conforming: according to what the Japanese tabloid The Asahi Shimbun writes in recent days, to correct the course towards the new trend was one of the first Coca Cola (Japan), which catching the very first signs of the phenomenon well in advance, even in 2019 it entered the Japanese spirits market by launching the lemon sour Lemon-Dou. And following the rich trend, last June it launched Nomel's Hard Lemonade on the Japanese market, available in three different flavors and alcoholic strengths.
A rich trend we said was beaten today by many companies in the sector, since the demand for "ready to drink" lemon-based spirits is such as to push prices upwards. Examples are the products launched by companies such as Suntory Spirits Ltd (with its Kodawari Sakaba lemon sour), rather than Kirin Brewery Co, which launched Hakko Lemon Sour last spring. Last but not least, Chuhai, a distillate (i.e. a shochu) with lemon and mixed with soda, can be purchased in a can and therefore drinkable without being previously diluted with sparkling water or other liquids, also available in common supermarkets as is the case for soft drinks.
The data of the research company Intage speak for themselves: compared to 2019, sales of ready-to-drink products in 2020 increased by 10%, to 419.1 billion yen (3.82 billion dollars), those that use lemon are were 40% of the total and generated 171.2 billion yen. The 35% year-on-year growth rate for lemon-based alcohol products was higher than that of the entire ready-to-drink market.
In short, the Japanese have discovered the lemon. It seems that its refreshing aroma, which goes well with the various types of local food, wins them over, and the fact that they have different types of alcoholic strength and flavors available satisfies a wide range of consumers. A boom that according to analysts has generated an unexpected effect: the price of conventional ready-to-drink products has plummeted. By contrast, the average consumer is willing to spend much higher than the norm for a can of Lemon-Dou (which according to Coca Cola's estimates has sold very well in the country despite the cost), rather than Hakko Lemon Sour.
"A new market has been established for these products now comparable to luxury ones - said a spokesman for Kirin Brewery -. This shows us that a product can be accepted beyond the price, when it offers an added value, in this case the lemon". Naturally, the rising popularity of lemonade alcoholic beverages has also attracted the attention of brewers, who have been experiencing an increasingly dramatic decline in sales for 16 years. And here, too, offers of lemon beer begin to flourish, a sign that this industry is also converting to the new needs of the market, which as always dictates the rules.
EFA News - European Food Agency