Rising Popularity of Non-Sweet Chuhai Alcoholic Beverages Among Middle-Aged and Elderly Adults

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kirin Holdings Co.’s new canned chuhai, Shochu Soda, is seen being promoted in Tokyo on Sept. 22, part of a growing trend among major alcoholic beverage companies of focusing on non-sweet canned chuhai.

There is a growing trend among major alcoholic beverage companies to focus on the sales of non-sweetened canned chuhai. This type of shochu-based beverage is usually sweet, but companies are now stepping up their efforts to promote canned chuhai without the typical sweetness.

One of the main reasons for this shift is the increase in the tax rate for dai-san-no-biiru quasi-beer following the revision of the Liquor Tax Law in October. However, the tax rate for canned chuhai remained unchanged. Given that canned chuhai is generally priced lower than beer and quasi-beer, companies are expecting to see a growth in demand for this type of alcoholic beverage, especially as a complement to food.

Kirin Holdings Co. responded to consumer demand for more alcohol mixed with soda by launching Shochu Soda in mid-October. The company’s other sugar-free product, the Hyoketsu Muto series, has been well-received, with its new shikwasa Okinawan citrus flavor surpassing 10 million cans in sales since its launch in July.

Sapporo Breweries Ltd. also released Craft Spice Soda, containing seven different spices such as lemon peel and coriander instead of the typical sugary fruit juice in chuhai products. Suntory Holdings Ltd. is continuing to lead the market with its highball products of whiskey mixed with soda, and has introduced Kodawari Sakaba no Takohai, made by mixing shochu with soda with the aim of generating demand for at-home consumption.

Alcohol companies are increasingly focusing on products like chuhai that can be consumed immediately after opening the can. While fruit juice-based alcoholic beverages were initially targeted at younger consumers, sugar-free chuhai products have become more popular among middle-aged and elderly consumers as well.

As people are becoming more health-conscious, there is a rising demand for low-sugar and purine-free options. Asahi Breweries, Ltd. is considering a nationwide launch of their Ginon product line, featuring gin that is distilled after being soaked in lemon peels. The president of Asahi Breweries, Kazuo Matsuyama, said, “Japan is one of the few countries in the world that have developed this beverage genre on its own. Instead of competing on price, we want to create a brand with a distinctive value.”


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