Japan: Sapporo rides the Seltzer wave

Eight years after the first hard seltzer products were launched in the United States, the new product category has reached Japan. Sapporo, the Japanese beer and spirits maker, has recently launched two ready-to-drink hard seltzers marketed under the Sapporo Water Sour brand. Coming in a lemon and an orange version, the unsweetened low-alcoholic (3%ABV) vodka-based drink  provides a light sour still refreshing mouthfeel.

“Due to their growing health consciousness young people are becoming more aware of their drinking habbits and the amount of alcohol consumed. We have developed a product for young people that is low in alcohol and has no sugar added,” said Sapporo Breweries Public Relation Manager Yasuhiro Nagumo.

Sapporo gained first insight into the RTD market in Canada, where Sleeman Breweries, since 2006 Sapporo’s Canadian beer unit, bought in March Aware Beverages Inc, maker of SoCIAL LITE, the first-ever unsweetened pre-mixed vodka soda in Canada.

Already before, Sleeman launched their own RTD like Splash Vodka Soda and Sway Vodka Soda but realized that an already established brand like SoCIAL LITE could gain more momentum. “As a beer company, we need to grow our RTD business. We have our own brands in Canada, but from the point of view of the speed of growth, it is better for us to acquire existing brands through M&A and hope for their growth, in terms of economic rationality and speed. I have high expectations for the growth of Aware Beverages,” said Hiroyuki Nose, Sapporo Breweries’ new President & Representative Director at an earnings call in August.

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