IN THE 1970S Japan gave the world pocket calculators and the Walkman. A much less well-known Japanese invention of the period was canned espresso. Fifty years on, the nation stays the most important client of ready-to-drink brews, guzzling 3.1bn litres per 12 months, half the worldwide complete and sufficient to fill Tokyo’s new Olympic Stadium nearly to the brim. As home gross sales sluggish—they fell by 12.5% within the 5 years to 2019, to $11.5bn—Japanese sellers of the stuff are trying overseas, and particularly thirstily throughout the Pacific.
America consumes solely round a fifth as a lot canned and bottled espresso as Japan does. However People are growing a style for it. The market has expanded by 78% since 2014. Margins are extra energising than in Japan. This ought to be a present to ready-to-drink espresso’s Japanese pioneers. It hasn’t been.
Suntory, a Japanese beverage large, which dominates its residence marketplace for prepackaged espresso, is notable by its absence in America. Matthew Barry of Euromonitor, a analysis agency, factors to variations in client preferences between the 2 nations as one clarification. In America canned espresso is favoured predominantly by younger folks, and particularly younger ladies. They need a big, chilly, café-quality beverage in a resealable bottle. In Japan the everyday drinker is a middle-aged blue-collar man who buys cans from a merchandising machine. One other clarification is America’s concentrated marketplace for high quality brews. In addition to cornering espresso outlets, Starbucks accounts for 63% of canned-coffee gross sales by quantity.
The Seattle-based large is now covetously eyeing Japan, the place tastes and client habits are rising extra much like Western ones, with much more younger feminine tipplers than earlier than, for example. Starbucks already has practically 1,600 cafés within the nation. Different foreigners, too, are making their presence felt. Japan’s favorite canned espresso, Georgia, is owned by Coca-Cola, which dreamed up the model in Japan (and named it after its residence state). The drinks large is now launching packaged merchandise by Costa Espresso, a British coffee-shop chain it owns. And final month Blue Bottle, a fancy Californian espresso chain owned by Nestlé, a Swiss group, launched its first canned-coffee merchandising machine—in Tokyo.
This text appeared within the Enterprise part of the print version beneath the headline “Caffeine conflict”