TOKYO, Japan – Japan’s market for decaffeinated coffee products remains small, less than 1% of country’s overall coffee market, but manufacturers are optimistic as they seek to cash in on the rising popularity of decaffeinated beverages, including black and green teas.
After growing for five years, decaf bean imports slowed in 2018, with annual volume dropping 13% from the previous year.
Still, last year’s figure was twice that of five years earlier, indicating solid demand.
Decaf coffee drinkers in Japan are primarily pregnant women wary of the effects of caffeine on their unborn babies. Now the industry is targeting the elderly and young, as well as foreign visitors.
In 2018, Ajinomoto subsidiary Ajinimoto AGF upgraded its Blendy stick-sachet instant coffee product, while in March Key Coffee added a decaffeinated version to its Mainichi Cafe line of coffee beverages, claiming the drink goes well with Japanese food. These were followed in April by UCC Ueshima Coffee’s new decaf bottled latte.
Coffee consumption has been on the rise in Japan. Total bean imports rose 5% from five years ago to about 470,000 tons in 2018.
As the 2020 Tokyo Olympics nears, manufacturers are gearing up for the increase in foreign visitors, many who will be looking for a cup of decaf.