The product is available in convenience stores and supermarkets alongside the original Kirin Oishii Immune Care launched earlier this year.
Ikuyo Yogo from the corporate communications department at Kirin Holdings, explained that it did not remove the original product from the market as the alternative aims to widen product access to calorie- and sugar-conscious consumers.
“As there is a certain number of consumers who only buy sugar-cut and calorie-cut types, we believe that the product will be picked up by consumers who are different from existing Kirin Oishii Immune Care customers.”
Since its launch in March, the original product has approximately 90% higher cumulative sales volume than its precedent Kirin iMUSE Morning Immune Care, according to the firm.
Making functional drinks healthier
According to SRI+ nationwide retail store panel survey in Japan, calorie-free, low sugar and sugar free types account for more than 30% of total sales for small yoghurts and non-alcoholic beverages.
Kirin’s own consumer research also elicited that of all types, 50% less calories was most highly sought after – almost three times greater – than low sugar, low calorie, and sugar free options. Another key finding was that calorie- and sugar-conscious consumers also expect the products to taste good.
In the alternative product, Yogo highlighted that its ingredients balance was adjusted to ensure that taking out the calories did not compromise on its taste.
Aside from cutting calories, sugar and fat in its products, another trend is adding functional ingredients to reduce absorption.
Earlier this year, Kirin launched the functional soda Kirin x FANCL Calolimit Apple Sparkling. It contains the dietary fibre non-digestible dextrin that suppresses the absorption of sugar and fat from meals and helps with detox.
The firm added that it was also considering new product development opportunities to expand the immune care habit to more consumers.
NutraIngredients-Asia recently covered Kirin’s financial results that highlighted its focus on functional beverages in the health science domain.