It is a non-alcoholic beverage (0.00% ABV) and made from only three ingredients, wheat, hop and water.
Ataka Takashima from the corporate communication department at Kirin Holdings told FoodNavigator-Asia that Kirin Greens Free is marketed as a ‘natural beer-tasting carbonated beverage’.
The company said the beer is the first in Japan which did not use additives such as flavours and artificial sweeteners to create a taste similar to beer.
Rising health concerns
According to Kirin, increasing health awareness of consumers have driven the growth of non-alcoholic beverages and beer-tasting beverages in Japan.
Takashima told us non-alcoholic beers constitute about 5% of all liquor in Japanese market. Liquor includes wine, sake, spirits, as well as beer.
While it may not seem much, “It (non-alcoholic beer market) has grown 3% CAGR over the last three years, and we expect the trend to continue,” she added.
The company said the conventional perception of non-alcoholic beer used to only be that of a substitute for beer. However, Takashima said the non-alcoholic beers are suitable for all adults who enjoy the taste of beer and carbonation without the intoxicating effects.
“Combining sugar-free carbonated water with non-alcoholic beer-tasting beverages, it offers a fresh and pleasant taste for both the mind and the body. You can feel refreshed, anytime and anywhere, in a variety of situations, in a delicious, healthy manner,” the company said.
Kirin hopes Greens Free can add value to the non-alcoholic beverage market. Last year, it launched a non-alcoholic beer (Kirin Karada Free) which also obtained a Food with Function Claim (FFC) label for its fat-reducing properties.
In Japan, brewery giants such as Asahi, Suntory and Sapporo are also in the non-alcoholic beer business with products including Asahi Dry Zero, All-Free All-Time, and Mugi no Kutsurogi beer respectively.
With the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics Games, Takashima said the company predicts sales of its non-alcoholic beers to increase. “We expected that non-alcoholic beer will also increase in consumption due to the high affinity between sports and alcoholic beverages.”
She added that the Japanese liquor tax will be reformed in October this year, “It is expected that some present beer consumers will move to non-alcoholic beers.”
Kirin Green Free will be available on April 3, 2020 nationwide, and will come in 350mL and 500mL cans.
The company estimates to sell approximately 1.58 million cases or 20,000 kiloliters. It will be manufactured in Kirin’s Toride, Shiga, and Okayama plants.
Note: The article was updated to reflect the new packaging