The chocolate category still accounts for over half of new confectionery product launches in Japan, but the functional segment is beginning to steal some of the limelight, according to a new report from market researchers Datamonitor
The market for confectionery in Japan increased at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.9 per cent between 2004 and 2009, with the chocolate category taking a 52 per cent share.
Traditional categories such as sugar confectionery accounted for one third of the new product launches, and gum notched up 10 per cent of new releases last year.
However, the Asian market specialists note that, in 2009, many new product launches focused on consumer health, with the analysts reporting that many products are being reformulated with wellness concerns in mind.
“The focus on health was evident, with ‘no sugar’, ‘high in vitamins’, ‘high in collagen’ and ‘low in calories’ featuring among the top 10 claims on new product launches,” finds the report, adding that the Japanese are increasingly conscious of their health.
Meanwhile, Mintel reports that collagen-rich extracts, targeting the anti-ageing market, are finding their way into sweets drinks and other products in Japan. Its global new product database also recorded an iron-fortified soft chew from Morinaga that targets women and particularly menstruation.
“Consumers are increasingly looking to food to maintain not only their health, but also their beauty and youthfulness,” Mintel noted. “Interest has veered between the latest anti-oxidising superfruits, such as blueberries and aronia berries, to the latest vitamin-enriched functional foods such as yogurts and pro-biotic drinks.”
Huge functional following
Japan remains one of the biggest functional foods market in the world along with the collective that is the European Union and North America and many in healthy food industry, or the mainstream industry for that matter, keep a keen eye on Japanese market functional food launches.
Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics noted 3,522 new Japanese foods and non-alcohol drinks that have made a claim that they are ‘high in’ a particular nutrient between 1, 2006 and August 31, 2010.
“If you compare the percentage of new foods and beverages in Japan making a ‘high in’ a particular nutrient claim versus other countries, Japan would not rank at the top of the list but would certainly be toward the top,” said Datamonitor’s Tom Vierhile.
Natural and organic
An increase in the use of natural and organic ingredients in confectionery products is also highlighted in Datamonitor’s insight into the Japanese sweet and chocolates sector, with the authors finding that local manufacturers are experimenting with newer flavors and ingredients to continuously keep consumers engaged in their products.
And, they add that growth in the premium confectionery category, particularly chocolate, is being driven by increasing buying power.
Most of the top players by new confectionery product launches are based in Japan, note the Datamonitor based analysts, with Kabaya Foods the leading company in terms of new product launches but the 10th largest company by market share in the Japanese confectionery market.
Behind Kabaya were Lotte and Meiji Seika, the top two players by market share.
The Asian market experts also report that products in the Japanese confectionery market use a variety of claims to entice consumers and create product differentiation. Alongside Fairtrade labelling, producers highlight ‘no genetic modification’ ingredients or use references to ‘teens’ and the ‘mature’ population segment on their packaging.