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Bottled Tea Makers Vie for a Bigger Share of the Market (July 27, 2006)

Suntory Black Oolong Tea OTPP (Suntory Limited.)
A battle for ideas is heating up among bottled tea producers, who are engaged in a fierce competition to create tasty beverages that capture the public's imagination. This year their rallying cry is health and beauty, and the lineup of products features an oolong tea that can suppress fat absorption. With the start of summer, when demand for bottled drinks peaks, beverage makers have been scrambling to come out with new teas that they hope will secure them a larger market share.

Teas for Weight Control
In May 2006 Suntory Ltd., Japan's leading manufacturer of bottled oolong teas, released Suntory Kuro Oolongcha OTPP (Suntory Black Oolong Tea OTPP), a drink with a large amount of oolong tea polymerized polyphenols (OTPP) that received Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare certification as a food for specified health uses. This was Suntory's first new oolong tea since 1981. The fruit of more than 20 years of research, Kuro Oolongcha can suppress the rise of triglycerides after meals by about 20% and double the amount of fat eliminated from the body.

Healthya Water (Kao Corporation)

Hoping to capitalize on the immense success of Healthya, a bottled green tea that spearheaded the market for weight control teas, Kao Corp. released a sports drink by the name Healthya Water in May that is the first sports drink with fat-reducing properties to receive Ministry of Health certification. Despite high levels of tea catechin, a substance that aids in the prevention of fat buildup, it has a pleasant flavor without excessive bitterness or astringency. Kao is working to increase the number of consumers who drink Healthya Water on a regular basis.

A shelf stocked with bottled teas (Jiji)

Blended Tea for Beauty
Other companies have come out with new versions of their bottled tea blends. In January the Coca Cola (Japan) Company, Ltd., came out with an improved version of Sokenbicha, a drink comprising a blend of different teas that is targeted at beauty-conscious women. This was the first revision to Sokenbicha for 13 years. It also released Karada-meguricha, a new tea blend containing a mixture of Chinese herbs. Kirin Beverage Co., meanwhile, marketed a tea blend named Jikkan, which is made from barley and other grains. And Asahi Soft Drinks Co. came out with Mameriki Jurokucha, which harnesses the health benefits of beans, as a sequel to its Shokujitoisshoni Jurokucha (literally, "tea to drink with a meal").

The bottled tea market is the scene of cut-throat competition among the major brands, with Ito En Ltd.'s Oi Ocha currently occupying the top spot. Bottled green tea, blended tea, and oolong tea comprise the three pillars of a market that has doubled in size over the past 10 years. In the 1980s, oolong took the lead, only to be replaced by blended tea in the 1990s and green tea around the turn of the century. Some industry representatives now say the time is now ripe for a new kind of tea to take center stage.

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Copyright (c) 2006 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.

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(August 24, 2000)
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