Mandatory health checks to combat metabolic syndrome for full-time employees were implemented in April of this year, leaving many people counting calories and carbs. As consumers make decisions based on heightened concerns over health, “zero” products, boasting “zero carbohydrates,” “zero calories,” “zero sugar,” were a hit in 2008.
Zero-sugar ham, bacon, and candies were released, but the busiest sector was the canned drink industry, with a number of “zero sugar” canned coffees and “zero carbohydrate” beers going on the market. Kirin started the trend in February, releasing Kirin Zero, a zero carbohydrate happoshu, and Suntory released Zero Nama (“Zero Draft”) in March. Summer saw the release of a number of zero sugar chu-hai drinks from Kirin and Suntory.
According to a recent Nikkei report, “zero” alcoholic beverages first appeared on the Japanese market in 2006, garnering sales of 1.8 billion yen ($18 million). Sales jumped in 2007 to 36.1 billion yen, boostered by Asahi’s Style Free carb free happoshu, the first hit product in the zero drink market, and sales more than doubled in 2008, to a projected 94.7 billion yen.