Soy milk flavors in Japan from KIKOMMAN
Kikkoman’s Evolution and the Breakthrough of Soy Milk in Japan. Flavors innovation is a key to be recognized by various generations.

 Kikkoman’s History:

Founded in 1917, Kikkoman stands as one of Japan’s premier food manufacturers, renowned for a diverse range of products, including soy sauce, ponzu, sauces, miso, dressings, soups, and more. The company expanded globally, exporting soy sauce to the United States in 1957, marking the beginning of its international presence.

Soy Milk Origins at Kikkoman:

While soy sauce remains Kikkoman’s flagship product, its venture into soy milk commenced in 1979 when Kibun Foods initiated sales. Interestingly, Kibun’s logo, not Kikkoman’s, graces the soy milk packaging to this day. Kibun faced a challenge during the warmer months when the demand for fish-based protein, a staple in products like oden (hot pot), declined. To overcome this, Kibun explored the idea of leveraging tofu, derived from soybeans, to provide a high-quality protein source even in the summer.

However, entering the tofu business posed difficulties due to regulations protecting small and medium-sized enterprises. To navigate this, Kibun reimagined its approach: instead of tofu, they focused on utilizing the liquid byproduct of tofu production to create a beverage rich in high-quality protein. This marked the pivotal shift from tofu to soy milk as a business strategy.

The initial phase proved challenging, with soy milk not gaining significant traction. In addition, the lack of an established soy milk product category led to soy milk being placed on shelves alongside fish-based products and Western sweets in supermarkets.

Breakthrough and Market Dynamics:

A turning point came in the early 1980s when Japan, recovering from two oil shocks, witnessed a resurgence in economic growth. The societal shift towards health consciousness began, with the keyword “health” prominently entering the minds of corporate warriors and their spouses. In 1983, a substantial surge in health consciousness became a societal phenomenon, resulting in a broader focus on the benefits of soy protein. This led to increased attention on soy milk, and Kibun’s “Kibun Prepared Soy Milk” emerged as a hit product.

Despite the initial success, the soy milk market experienced a downturn the following year. During this period, Kibun Foods persisted in efforts to improve the distinct odor and texture of soy milk. They actively proposed the creation of dedicated soy milk corners in stores and worked on both manufacturing and sales fronts.

In 2005, soy milk experienced a second peak with heightened awareness of isoflavones and polyphenols, leading to reports on their anti-cancer and diet-related benefits. This brought soy milk back into the spotlight, and Kibun’s “Kibun Prepared Soy Milk” recorded its highest domestic production of 217,000 kiloliters. While the market stabilized after the second peak, soy milk maintained a consistent demand.

Kikkoman’s Soy Milk Products:

Kikkoman’s soy milk products, launched by Kikkoman Beverage, initially appealed mainly to women aged 40–60. Over time, the consumer base diversified, encompassing individuals of all ages and genders, with even heavy usage among men in their 20s. The introduction of various flavors contributed to this expanded consumer demographic.

Japanese Classification of Soy Milk: In Japan, soy milk is classified into three categories according to JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards) standards: “豆乳 (Unadjusted Soy Milk),” “調製豆乳 (Prepared Soy Milk),” and “豆乳飲料 (Soy Milk Beverage).” The majority of domestically produced soy milk falls under the category of prepared soy milk, which constitutes more than half of Kikkoman Beverage’s production. Unadjusted soy milk, made from only soybeans and water, has also seen an increase in production. Flavored soy milk beverages, containing added juice or other flavorings, represent a niche market, accounting for around 20% of the overall soy milk market. Despite this, Kikkoman Beverage boasts a diverse range of flavors in this niche, contributing to its market presence.

Kikkoman’s journey with soy milk reflects the dynamism of the Japanese market, showcasing how a traditional company can adapt and succeed in the ever-evolving landscape of consumer preferences and health consciousness.

Kikkoman has more than 30 flavors ,Let’s see some of their flavors lineup. Price is less than 100JPY(0.67USD)/200ml.

 

sosome Kikkoman’s History:

Founded in 1917, Kikkoman stands as one of Japan’s premier food manufacturers, renowned for a diverse range of products, including soy sauce, ponzu, sauces, miso, dressings, soups, and more. The company expanded globally, exporting soy sauce to the United States in 1957, marking the beginning of its international presence.

Soy Milk Origins at Kikkoman:

While soy sauce remains Kikkoman’s flagship product, its venture into soy milk commenced in 1979 when Kibun Foods initiated sales. Interestingly, Kibun’s logo, not Kikkoman’s, graces the soy milk packaging to this day. Kibun faced a challenge during the warmer months when the demand for fish-based protein, a staple in products like oden (hot pot), declined. To overcome this, Kibun explored the idea of leveraging tofu, derived from soybeans, to provide a high-quality protein source even in the summer.

However, entering the tofu business posed difficulties due to regulations protecting small and medium-sized enterprises. To navigate this, Kibun reimagined its approach: instead of tofu, they focused on utilizing the liquid byproduct of tofu production to create a beverage rich in high-quality protein. This marked the pivotal shift from tofu to soy milk as a business strategy.

The initial phase proved challenging, with soy milk not gaining significant traction. In addition, the lack of an established soy milk product category led to soy milk being placed on shelves alongside fish-based products and Western sweets in supermarkets.

Breakthrough and Market Dynamics:

A turning point came in the early 1980s when Japan, recovering from two oil shocks, witnessed a resurgence in economic growth. The societal shift towards health consciousness began, with the keyword “health” prominently entering the minds of corporate warriors and their spouses. In 1983, a substantial surge in health consciousness became a societal phenomenon, resulting in a broader focus on the benefits of soy protein. This led to increased attention on soy milk, and Kibun’s “Kibun Prepared Soy Milk” emerged as a hit product.

Despite the initial success, the soy milk market experienced a downturn the following year. During this period, Kibun Foods persisted in efforts to improve the distinct odor and texture of soy milk. They actively proposed the creation of dedicated soy milk corners in stores and worked on both manufacturing and sales fronts.

In 2005, soy milk experienced a second peak with heightened awareness of isoflavones and polyphenols, leading to reports on their anti-cancer and diet-related benefits. This brought soy milk back into the spotlight, and Kibun’s “Kibun Prepared Soy Milk” recorded its highest domestic production of 217,000 kiloliters. While the market stabilized after the second peak, soy milk maintained a consistent demand.

Kikkoman’s Soy Milk Products:

Kikkoman’s soy milk products, launched by Kikkoman Beverage, initially appealed mainly to women aged 40–60. Over time, the consumer base diversified, encompassing individuals of all ages and genders, with even heavy usage among men in their 20s. The introduction of various flavors contributed to this expanded consumer demographic.

Japanese Classification of Soy Milk: In Japan, soy milk is classified into three categories according to JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards) standards: “豆乳 (Unadjusted Soy Milk),” “調製豆乳 (Prepared Soy Milk),” and “豆乳飲料 (Soy Milk Beverage).” The majority of domestically produced soy milk falls under the category of prepared soy milk, which constitutes more than half of Kikkoman Beverage’s production. Unadjusted soy milk, made from only soybeans and water, has also seen an increase in production. Flavored soy milk beverages, containing added juice or other flavorings, represent a niche market, accounting for around 20% of the overall soy milk market. Despite this, Kikkoman Beverage boasts a diverse range of flavors in this niche, contributing to its market presence.

Kikkoman’s journey with soy milk reflects the dynamism of the Japanese market, showcasing how a traditional company can adapt and succeed in the ever-evolving landscape of consumer preferences and health consciousness.

Kikkoman has more than 30 flavors ,Let’s see some of their flavors lineup. Price is less than 100JPY(0.67USD)/200ml. 

 

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