The Japanese food industry has developed some of the most innovative products on the international nutrition market in recent years. In the latest of a regular series on, this update from Japanscan showcases new products from Japan including functional foods for the elderly, novelty snacks and convenience foods.

New trend in functional foods – foods for the elderly
Second largest dairy company Meiji Milk Products has launched Meiji Shokuryokan Karada ni Genki [therapeutic foods for a healthy body, the words ‘nutraceutical foods’ in English are on the front of the pack next to the product name in Japanese].   This is a new variety in Meiji Milk’s series of foods for the elderly and people in hospital, etc. The first products in this series, reported in JAPANSCAN February 2000 number 196, were retort pouch foods for people who have difficulty chewing. These new products are soft drinks. They are a source of protein. Each pack supplies 4.5g of whey protein in a palatable fruit juice drink (fruit juice content less than 10%). Each pack also supplies 1/5 the daily requirement of vitamin C, B1 and B2. Two varieties – orange, grape in 125ml aseptic brick carton Y80, 36 per case.

Balanced Nutritional Foods
Pola Foods, part of the Pola cosmetics group, has launched a new variety of the balanced nutritional cookie bar series called Balance Up. This new variety contains pumpkin seeds, 10 vitamins (A, B1, B2, B6, B12, D, E, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid) plus calcium, iron and dietary fiber. An easy way to compensate for the deficiency in the diet. Protein content 9%. Six cookies per stick pack Y100 (plus tax).

Health Foods
Nichifuri Shokuhin’s Sesame Salt [translation] is healthy salt obtained from deep-sea water. There has been recent demand for water from deep below the surface of the sea, as a health drink, now salt from this water is being used. This salt is rich in all types of minerals in a balanced ratio. It is mixed with toasted sesame seeds, which are also known for their health benefits. Small packs ideal for lunch boxes. 10 x 3g sachets Y110, 60 per case.

Nutritional Supplements
Asahi Beer Yakuhin has relaunched Actio Heme Iron, a nutritional supplement in the Actio brand range. The main changes are that the bioavailablity of the iron has been increased and the price reduced. This preparation also contains vitamin B12 and folic acid to improve iron absorption and metabolism. Two tablets supply the daily requirement of these vitamins. Each tablet (440mg) contains 2mg heme iron, 2.5 micrograms vitamin B12 and 200 micrograms folic acid. 60 tablets per jar Y1280 (was Y1500).

Purple Sweet Potato Cookies
Murasaki Imo Club [purple sweet potato club] healthy cookies from Tohato are made with purple sweet potato rich in polyphenols and black sesame, another healthy ingredient.  The trend towards healthy ingredients continues upwards.  70g bag, guide price Y110, 20/case.

Novelty Gum
Korisu Gum Men is novelty bubble gum that forms a shape like noodles. Unique technology has been used to produce this effect. The gum itself is apple noodle flavor. It is coated in a powder to give it the tangy flavor of apples. 20g Y50, 240 per case.

Garlic Snack Foods
Nissin Cisco has launched Ninniku Chips [garlic chips]. This snack food packed in a handy cup consists of bite size flakes with all the taste of garlic flavored with soy sauce. This snack has been produced by the manufacturing process used for cornflakes [Nissin Cisco is a manufacturer of cornflakes]. The handy cup has a two layer lid so the snack can be eaten anywhere without getting hands dirty, because the snack can be eaten directly from the cup. Aimed at young people at junior and senior high school and college. Sales target Y300 million. 35g cup Y120 (plus tax), 30 per case, shelf-life 6 months.

Ice Cream and Ices
Medium size dairy company, Ohayo Nyugyo has launched a very Japanese flavor ice cream called Ohayo Koicha [rich green tea]. This milk flavor ice cream bar is marbled with a thick sauce made with quality Uji green tea. 85ml bar on a stick Y100, 20 per case. There is also an ice milk version in a multi-pack of 7 x 45ml bars Y300, 6 per case.

The new type of snack ice from confectionery manufacturer Ezaki Glico, called Glico Poikaji Petit Choux, consist of mini choux pastries filled with ice milk [ice cream with a minimum milk fat content of 3%].  These are packed in a tall cup so the product looks like a snack food.  There are 8 of these 7ml mini choux per tall cup Y130. The cup will fit into the cup holder in cars so the snack can be eaten while driving. [The first products in this series were reported in JAPANSCAN March 2000 number 58.]

Caramel Yogurt
Ohayo Nyugyo’s Caramel Yogurt is flavored with caramel, a popular flavor for ice cream and confectionery. It is a slightly sweet yogurt with the characteristic flavor of caramel liked by both adults and children. It has the gentle acidity of yogurt, which appeals to young people. Non-fat milk solids 8.5%, milk fat 2.0%. 100g cup Y80, 2 x 100g cups Y140, 3 x 100g cups Y200.

Sweet Potato Dairy Dessert
Ohayo Nyugyo’s Oimono Yaki Purin [sweet potato baked custard] is a genuine baked custard dessert.  It is made with quality sweet potatoes grown in Tokushima prefecture. It has the mild sweetness of sweet potato and is baked to an attractive brown color. Sweet potatoes are presently in fashion because they are healthy ingredients, containing dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals.  105g cup Y120.

Oriental Dressings
Lion Corp. has the marketing rights for McCormick in Japan.  The new McCormick Kombu Dressing [kombu is kelp, an essential ingredient in Japanese cooking] has good aroma and a mild flavor. This is a product relaunch, now with improved flavor. Packed in an attractive table top bottle with new pack design 150ml Y165. The other dressings in this series include Chinese, soy sauce, French, sesame, spicy Italian and non-oil perilla.

Ajinomoto, world leader in monosodium glutamate, is also a major dressings and sauces company.  Ajinomoto Kakedare Kobo [seasoning sauce workshop] is a series of new Asian-style sauces for the food service industry.  Hot and spicy sauces are very much in fashion, especially those with plenty of chili pepper.  Pirikara Kochu-jang-dare is a Korean-style spicy sauce based on fermented bean paste with chili [kochu-jang] and containing Japanese miso and sesame paste. Pirikara Shoyu-dare is also Korean-style sauce made with yakunenjo [spicy Korean sauce], garlic, ginger, sesame oil and ground sesame. Spice Shoyu-dare is Javanese satay sauce with honey and apple juice. Ethnic Amazu-dare [sweet vinegar] is based on Thai-style fish sauce with ginger, honey and lemon juice. These sauces are suitable for use in bars, pubs, grill restaurants and company canteens. One liter bottle, 6 per case. No price quoted.

Fish hamburger
Major fishery company, Maruha has launched Maruha O’Sakana Hamburg Yawaraka Kotsu Iri [fish hamburger steak with soft bones]. These fish hamburger steaks contain the nutrients of fish plus calcium from the softened ground fish bones. These fishburgers are suitable for children. 80g retort pouch Y130. In addition to the new fishburgers, Maruha is relaunching fish balls, which also contain softened ground fish bones to add a natural source of calcium, 94g retort pouch Y130.

Frozen Ready Meals
Leading dairy company Meiji Milk Products is also in the frozen ready meals market.  Meiji Italian Style Meat Spring Rolls [translation] has just been launched. This frozen ready meal is a new idea for spring rolls – a western version of a Chinese dish. The rolls are filled with ground beef, onions and carrots plus ketchup, meat sauce and cheese. 8 rolls, 150g pillow pack Y280.

Pasta Sauces
House Foods, a major curry and noodles company, has developed House Yofu Menya [western style noodle restaurant].  New varieties are now added to this series of retort pouch pasta sauces. The octopus and mushrooms in tomato sauce variety has a base of Japanese dashi sauce (made with kombu kelp, shiitake mushrooms and bonito) and the mild acidity of tomatoes. The octopus and oyster mushrooms are added to a well-simmered sauce. The chicken and mushrooms in cream sauce variety has a similar Japanese dashi sauce base, this time with dried anchovy instead of bonito. The sauce also contains cheese. The Japanese produced chicken and mushrooms (edible fungus, oyster mushrooms) are added to this cream sauce. Both 170g Y250, 60 per case.

Dole Foods has a tie up with top dairy company Snow Brand Milk Products in Japan.  Dole Edamame Potage Soup [edamame are green soybeans eaten in the pod], is a retort pouch soup made with selected green soybeans to produce a creamy potage type soup. Contains a vegetable bouillon made with 10 different types of vegetables, producing a rich and nutritious soup. No cooking required, just warm the soup, very convenient. 160g stand-up pouch Y178.