Japan's Nutraceuticals Today: Functional Foods Nation (2)

薬食同源 Japan’s Nutraceuticals Today

By Paul Yamaguchi

Green tea; More than Antioxidants

We’ve been drinking green tea for hundreds of years, but green tea in a bottle is relatively new. Packaging green tea in a bottle opened a brand new market. PET-bottled green teas are now consumed in the homes as well as outside of homes, just like bottled water. At the same time, it also opened an opportunity for nutritional fortification by adding components in addition to the tea’s naturally occurring antioxidants. Tea fortified with additional health ingredients is called “health tea” in Japan and the market for this new category is $550 million.

Green Tea with Glucosamine

Calpis (www.calpis.co.jp) is a major fermented milk drink company. Recently the company launched a new line of supplement drinks series called ‘Fine Support’. Among this line is a Glucosamine Green Tea, a green tea fortified with 500mg of acetyl glucosamine. Acetyl glucosamine is an amino acid sugar and it has value as a natural moisturizing factor. It is designed to maintain smooth and hydrated skin.

Green Tea with French Pine Bark Extract

Flavangenol®, an extract from French maritime pine bark , is a mixture of bioflavonoids with oligomeric proanthocyanidin (Toyo Shinyaku). A study conducted by Toyo Shinyaku showed that Flavangenol helps blood circulation in the body and it also known as an antioxidant agent. Suntory’s Flavangenol Tea (www.suntory.co.jp) is fortified with 40 mg of Flavangenol to help blood circulation and may also work as an antioxidant.

Tokuho (FOSHU) Approved Green Tea for Diabetics

Our blood sugar levels rise during the meal or right after - a more critical situation for diabetics. We typically drink tea mostly with a meal, so drinking sugar-suppressing tea with meals makes sense for diabetics in particular. Asahi’s Jyurokucha, (Sixteen tea) (www.asahiinryo.co.jp/16cha) is designed to control body sugar level when it is consumed with the meal. The product has been approved as Tokuho (FOSHU) as a product which can help people with diabetes. The main functional ingredient is indigestible dextrin fiber. It also contains a combination of 16 other herbs and natural ingredients as its name suggests.

Comments: Bottled green tea is by far the most popular soft drink in Japan. We consumed 1.5 billion gallons last year, compared with 700 million gallons of the next most popular drink, carbonated soft drinks. Beverage companies are capitalizing on this popularity to create value added products. Adding functionality is one way to do it. The most successful product launch in functional green tea was Kao’s Healthya Green Tea. It sold $100 million a year. In 2002 it was granted Tokuho (FOSHU) status; to reduce body fat. The success of Kao’s Healthya brought overpopulation of catechin fortified green tea to the market. (This year, Kao introduced a water version of the Healthya brand, Healthya Water), but after 3 years of a growth trend, the catechin green tea market seems to be maturing. Now, companies are bringing other types of functional green teas into the market. Glucosamine, French pine bark extract and dietary fiber are just a few examples. Green tea with soy isoflavones, caffeine and citrus are already in the market. Collagen, seramide, CoQ10, omega 3 might be the next line of green tea fortification. Because green tea is so much a staple to the Japanese diet, we are going to see a wide verity of nutritional fortified green tea products in coming years.

Paul Yamaguchi is president of Paul Yamaguchi & Associates, Inc., Tarrytown, NY.
His company publishes a number of Japanese nutrition market reports. His latest report is Nutritional Supplement Japan 2005, Inside of $11.1 billion Japanese dietary supplement market. Other report is Functional Foods and FOSHU Japan 2004, Market & Product Report.

For details and information on the reports, visit: http://www.functionalfoodsjapan.com/ or contact Paul at [email protected]
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