The 10 Most Read Food and Drink Stories in Japan in 2021


1. Progress in “nuclear food”: 15 countries around the world still restrict Japanese food to districts affected by the Fukushima disaster

Only 15 countries around the world still had food import restrictions from Japanese districts hit by the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown disaster in 2011 – but progress with those that remain may be difficult to achieve short term.

In recent months, several countries in the Middle East have gradually removed all import restrictions previously imposed on food from Japanese prefectures near the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, believed to be associated radioactive “nuclear food”.

The prefectures particularly affected by the disaster are those located in the immediate vicinity of the plant, including Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba.

2. Forget it, then it’s hot: Coca-Cola Japan has created freeze-dried tea and coffee cubes to reduce packaging waste.

Coca-Cola Japan has developed a freeze-dried cube of barley tea, green tea and coffee under the brand 1,2, CUBE to bring an innovative, practical and environmentally friendly solution to the instant drink market.

Freeze-dried coffee and tea are nothing new, although they are not common in Japan. It was the first product of its kind from Coca-Cola Japan.

It was made by extracting tea leaves or coffee beans into a concentrate, which was then frozen and vacuumed. Lyophilized cubes can be added to hot or room temperature water which dissolves completely.

3. “Shackles off”: Japan has established plant-based labeling rules for meat, dairy, egg and seafood substitutes

Japan had established regulations for the labeling of herbal products, with observers suggesting they were industry friendly and should not cause brand problems.

The herbal industry in Japan has seen some growth in recent years, with most of the progress seen in restaurants experimenting with new menus, larger manufacturers of conventional meat products such as Nippon Ham and Ito Ham launching herbal alternatives, as well as a few dedicated companies such as NEXT Meats entered the scene.

However, the government has seemed dissatisfied with the pace of the industry’s progress so far, and has therefore put in place new labeling rules to govern the plant sector in the hopes that this will propel its growth.

4. Flip the lid: Nissin cut plastic with a new innovation in cup noodle packaging

Nissin had removed the use of lid closure stickers on its cup noodle packaging, replaced it with a new innovation, in an effort to reduce plastic waste.

Previously the sticker kept the lid closed after pouring hot water into the noodle container, but it was plastic.

The new double-flap cover offered the same action, with a W-shaped flap to keep the cover closed.

5. “Plant-based coffees”: Nestlé Japan targeted health and sustainability researchers with new product offerings

Nestlé Japan launched two lines of ‘plant-based coffees’ as it maximized the appeal of one of the country’s most consumed drinks while tapping into one of the hottest consumer trends.

According to Nestlé Japan, the plant-based food and beverage market was growing rapidly at the local level, especially among consumers interested in healthy eating and living, or ethical consumption, a key factor for the company is embarking on the trend.

[Research has shown that] the domestic market has grown significantly with a 9% year-on-year gain to reach 211 billion yen in fiscal 2019, and [there was] an estimated 11% increase to JPY233bn in FY2020 – Some estimates suggest this could reach JPY291bn in five years“Said a spokesperson for Nestlé Japan FoodNavigator-Asiavia an e-mail declaration.

6. Healthy snacks in Japan and China: Italian Frutteto enjoyed rich picks with an innovative line of “ambient frozen”

Italian frozen fruit snacks company Frutteto started manufacturing some of its products in Japan, its biggest market, and was also launched in China in 2021.

First launched in Denmark in 2019, the Italian company is known for its frozen natural fruit puree products, touted as a healthier alternative to sugar ladle popsicles.

Although it is a frozen fruit snack, it is sold as an ambiance product: “The idea is for the consumer to take it home and put it in the freezer.“said Greig Gilbert, Managing Director of Frutteto.

7. No-to-low push: Asahi launched the Beery line with the aim of tripling low alcohol sales by 2025

Asahi Breweries has launched a new low-alcohol carbonated drink called Beery as part of its drive to see sales of products at 3.5% ABV or less increase from 6% to 20% by 2025.

To launch this, the company introduced Beery, a 0.5% beer-tasting alcoholic drink in March 2021 in Tokyo and several other prefectures, followed by a nationwide launch in June.

The drink is available in supermarkets, convenience stores and non-commercial outlets.

8. Color psychology: it’s red for Taiwan and blue for Japan for energy drink labels.

Taiwanese consumers have associated the color red with energy drinks, while Japanese consumers tend to associate the blue, according to a study.

Researchers from Taiwan and Japan wanted to demonstrate that colors influenced consumers’ perception of the properties of an energy drink and that this perception was based on cultural origins, even in East Asian countries.

In the study, they also found that specific colors were more closely associated with certain properties, for example, black for stimulants like caffeine, green for dietary fiber, and yellow for food.

9. Salt reduction in Asia: Ajinomoto focuses on regional nutrition with umami key for reformulation

Japanese F&B giant Ajinomoto unveiled its nutritional strategy for Asia focused on reducing salt with umami flavor at the heart of its reformulation effort.

Ajinomoto’s plans for Asia are part of its broader global nutrition strategy titled ‘Nutrition Without Compromise’, but for this region in particular, salt reformulation and increased protein intake are particularly important in terms of due to public health and demographic problems.

High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, which in turn is linked to various public health issues such as stroke, heart disease, and cognitive health disorders. In Asia, several countries now support double the recommended daily amount of salt“said Manasi Pethkar of Ajinomoto Science Group & Planning Group, Global Communications Department at FoodNavigator-Asia.

10. Strange But True: Nissin’s not-so-mysterious meat noodle series has continued to soar in Japan

Japanese instant noodle maker Nissin Food Products has extended its hugely popular Mystery Meat Noodle series with a new kimchi flavor to the shelves.

The series first launched in 2016, and was a huge marketing success for the brand… although there wasn’t much of a mystery surrounding the meat used.

The ingredient list still referred to the product containing seasoned ground pork, but the company later admitted that it was a blend of pork and soy.


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