Demand for amazake surges as younger consumers boost sales

Jiji Press

A promotional shop of Hakkaisan Brewery Co. sells amazake on March 10 in Chuo Ward, Tokyo. Sales are brisk and the drink is said to sell out in the mornings.

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Demand for amazake, a sweet, fermented, traditional Japanese rice drink, has grown rapidly in the country since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In the summer following the disaster, amazake sales jumped in affected areas where many people rushed to buy the drink to prevent heatstroke and summer lethargy as they curbed the use of air conditioners due to planned blackouts and amid calls to save electricity.

The boom quickly spread nationwide.

Amazake, which is typically consumed in the winter as a hot beverage, was previously a popular drink when temperatures were high.

Its consumption is now strong all year round thanks to its reputation for having high health and beauty benefits as the drink is rich in vitamins and amino acids.

According to major Japanese confectioner Morinaga & Co., a top amazake maker, amazake sales in Japan in 2016 jumped some 1.6-fold from the previous year to ¥13,029 million, four times the level in 2010.

The drink is often sold out in supermarkets in Tokyo, a Morinaga official said.

Main buyers were previously elderly people. But consumption has recently been growing among health and beauty-conscious women in their 30s and 40s. In addition, men have started buying it.

“Amazake’s popularity has spread through word of mouth,” said an official at Hakkaisan Brewery Co., a Minamiuonuma, Niigata Prefecture-based sake brewer that entered the amazake business in 2009.

The brewer, known for its Hakkaisan-brand sake, plans to expand its capacity in July to meet growing amazake demand, the official said.

Morinaga plans to expand its lineup of amazake products. “We want to make the drink more familiar and accessible,” a company official said.Speech

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