Japan: Kirin launches first zero-sugar beer

After five years in research and development, Japan’s second largest brewing group, Kirin Holdings, will launch a zero-sugar beer on October 6 in Japan. Kirin Ichiban Shibori Zero-Sugar is an extension to the brewer’s existing Kirin Ichiban line and has only 4% ABV compared to the 5% ABV of the original product but more importantly, the product comes with less than 0.5g of sugar per 100ml (compared to 2.6g per 100ml in the original Kirin Ichiban beer). According to Japanese food labeling standards the product is therefore allowed to be labeled as zero sugar. Kirin Ichiban Shibori Zero-Sugar

“Given that reduced reduced-sugar and zero-sugar beer-like products make up a high proportion of sugar-free products, we saw a higher consumer need for this product,” Ataka Takashima, Internal Communication and Global PR manager at Kirin Holdings, told FoodNavigator-Asia. “In addition, we aim to revitalize the beer category in Japan through a new value proposition for beer that is both tasty and contains zero-sugar.”

To achieve such a low sugar content, Kirin has established a “New Sugar-Cut Method” which combines the selection of special malt with a distinct preparation and a fermentation technology that allows the enzymes to break down the starch more efficiently. “By using more stringent controls and energetic yeast than normal beer, we are able to reduce the amount of sugar left over and achieve zero sugar,” Takashima explains the process whose details are still kept as a secret.

The product will be sold nationwide in 350 and 500-milliliter (12 and 17-ounce) cans. Kirin has ambituous plans with its sugar-free beer as it expects to sell 1.2 million boxes which is about 150,000 hectoliters by the end of this year.

In order to escape declining beer sales due to the ageing population in Japan, Kirin has intensified in recent year its research and development efforts. Exactly one year ago, the company launched the world’s first fat-burning beer, called Kirin Karada Free (inside.beer, 24.10.2019).

One year earlier, in March 2018, Kirin released another new product, Hon-Kirin, a third-category beer, which has a tax advantage and can be sold at a lower price than ordinary beers or happoshu. Hon-Kirin sold in the first three months 350,000 hl and easily jumped over the 1.2 million hl hurdle after the first 10 months (inside.beer, 17.5.2019).

After the reduction in beer tax in Japan in October, which amounts to seven yen (USD 0.07) per 350-milliliter (12-ounce) can, even more “full” beers are expected to hit the market.

Share this article: