Japan is the number one Ready-To-Drink market in the world. The market’s genesis truly came with Takara Can Chuhai in 1984, a ready to drink version of the popular “Chuhai” or ”Sour” made from shochu and syrups or fresh citrus served in Izakaya. In 2001, Hyoketsu (氷結) rejuvenated and ignited the market, capturing the taste buds of young adults and women thanks to its vodka base and fruity, citrus taste.
Now, this alcoholic category is the fastest-growing in the market!
From there, Suntory entered the battle with two hit brands: high strength and low strength, then with highball, and completely reshaped the market. These chu-hai are everywhere, from convenience stores to supermarkets, rivaling beer with their unbeatable prices and never-ending release of new flavors. With 14 million HLs, chu-hai is about 1/4 of the beer category but four times larger than wine, and with a steady double digit growth for years, it’s expected to grow bigger and bigger.
The bad news is: this is a fully domestic market with only a few established brands (in another professional life, Vincent was managing one of them). The good news is: there is plenty of space for new concepts and brands to rejuvenate the category as Hyoketsu did 20 years ago. Also, it’s surely time to consider exporting from Japan, because Chu-hai is going to take the world by storm!