Japan news

Soy milk drink with fibre
Calpis has launched a yoghurt-flavoured soy milk-based drink called Naturt. It also contains added fibre and has a calorie content as low as 16kcal per 100mL. The product's name, Naturt, is a combination of the words 'natural' and 'yoghurt.'

JT co-develops soft drink
JT has introduced a soft drink called Gaba Cool Water, which was developed in co-operation with Osaka City University. Gaba is a kind of amino acid that is naturally occurring in sprouted brown rice and cacao; the beverage contains 50mg of gaba. The product is promoted with the slogan 'Cooling down from your brain.' In addition to providing hydration, the beverage helps cool the body with its citrus flavours.

Ricom prepares chitosan for FOSHU application
Ricom, a supplier of mushroom-derived chitosan, is conducting double-blind studies in preparation for its FOSHU application. Animal tests are scheduled to begin within this year, with human clinical tests following next year.

Mushroom-derived chitosan provides a combination of beta-glucans and holds strong potential as a weight-loss ingredient, Ricom says. It has been proven in 137 human clinical cases that it prevents obesity by inhibiting the absorption of fats, as well as boosting the breakdown of fats. Currently, more than 30 food products with mushroom-derived chitosan are sold in the domestic and world markets, the company says. Applications include dietary supplements and foods such as jelly and cookies. New applications such as beverages are also being developed.

Yakult enters Vietnam
Yakult has decided to enter the Vietnamese market by establishing a joint venture with Danone, a major French food company. In June, Yakult established the company, which is responsible for production and sales of dairy beverages, and will begin selling products by the end of 2007. The new company, Vietnam Yakult, will sell dairy Yakult drinks throughout Vietnam mainly by home delivery and retail stores. The two companies plan to expand their business to neighbouring countries such as Cambodia.

Kyowa Hakko facility
Kyowa Hakko is building a new facility in Yamaguchi prefecture to produce 50 tonnes of co-Q10 annually. Currently, the company purchases co-Q10 from other suppliers and sells it to supplements companies. The global co-Q10 market was 150 tonnes in 2005 but the company forecasts the demand will increase to 450 tonnes by 2009, with demand particularly growing in the US. Kyowa Hakko hopes its increased production capacity will allow it to have more than 20 per cent of the market share.

Fuji Keizai publishes research
Fuji Keizai has published HB Foods Marketing Handbook 2006 No 3, a compilation of its research findings on the functional foods market. According to the report, the market is expected to reach 631.8 billion yen this year.

The market is shifting from taste-oriented healthy foods to function-oriented foods. The 'health foods' market grew due to double-digit growth in two categories: prevention of lifestyle-related diseases (62.4 billion yen) and skincare (42.2 billion yen). The weight-loss category (96.6 billion yen) also steadily grew.

Other hot categories include weight-loss foods (estimated at 170.6 billion yen in 2006, a 19 per cent growth from 2004); prevention of lifestyle-related diseases (estimated at 234.7 billion yen, a 17 per cent increase from 2004); and eye health (estimated at 303.3 billion yen, a 28 per cent increase from 2004). Meal replacements, the largest sub-category of the weight-loss category, and beverages will continue to grow steadily. Among the category of prevention of lifestyle-related diseases, catechin's market share decreased by 62 per cent in 2005 as it was replaced by co-Q10 and vinegars.

Courtesy of Global Nutrition Group
Global Nutrition Group is a consulting company in Tokyo focusing on the health and nutrition industry that aims to help companies enter the Japanese nutrition market. Services include clearing regulations, finding local partners, evaluating product potentials and providing marketing support. www.global-nutrition.co.jp
In the eye-health category, new ingredients such as blackcurrant and lutein became popular, in addition to bilberry.

Reducing Cholesterol
Chitosan Ashitaba Aojiru (Chitosan and Angelica keiskei green juice) by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical is designed to lower cholesterol. Flavoured like green tea, its key ingredients include ashitaba (Angelica keiskei), which is more nutritious than kale, and chitosan, which is effective for inhibiting absorption of cholesterols and lowering cholesterols in the blood, its maker says. The product is FOSHU-approved to lower cholesterol in the blood.

Perfect Slim Alpha reformulated
FANCL has renewed its fat-burning weight-loss supplement, Perfect Slim Alpha. The new product contains alpha-lipoic acid, to enhance energy metabolism, and L-ornithine, to improve lipolytic activity.

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