Iconic Japanese food and beverage brand Kikkoman is celebrating the launch of its latest product – Kikkoman Macadamia Milk.
While macadamia milk has gained popularity in many Western markets, in Japan its presence has been limited to a few imported products with narrow distribution. Kikkoman’s new product is unique as it is Japan’s first domestically-made mainstream macadamia milk.
Expanding the plant-based offering
The plant-based milk market is expanding globally and is predicted to reach US$21.52 billion in 2024, growing at a CAGR of more than 10% between 2020 and 2024.
Japan has long had strong demand for plant-based milk, thanks to the popularity of soy and almond, and it’s a market that Kikkoman says is continuing to steadily expand.
“We believe the plant-based milk market has potential to grow further,” says a Kikkoman spokesperson. “The growth is being driven by multiple factors including increasing health consciousness, environmental awareness and lifestyle choices,” they said.
“As consumers have come to expect more from plant-based milk, we challenged ourselves to develop more choices for Japanese consumers, and that was the key to developing our new macadamia milk.”
Kikkoman says it is appealing to regular soy, almond and oat milk drinkers who are eager for new options, as well as those who are macadamia fans.
“The macadamia is a very popular nut in Japan and it is often a feature of confectionery, desserts and ice cream products. We believe macadamia lovers will be very interested in our new product, as a new way to enjoy the taste of their favourite nut.”
Australian origin a key selling point
Kikkoman is flagging the Australian origin of its macadamias on front of pack and in its promotional campaigns, as the company believes this adds trust and value to the product.
“The macadamia’s unique flavour and aroma is the hero characteristic of the product, so it’s important to assure consumers that the main ingredient is from a safe and reliable source and is guaranteed to taste great. By stating the Australian origin of our macadamias on pack, we think consumers will have an image of a natural and premium quality product,” Kikkoman’s spokesperson explained.
“As our audience comes to understand our product more, we feel they will appreciate Australia as the macadamia’s country of origin, the beauty of its macadamia orchards and the stories of its growers.”
Created for the Japanese palate
Kikkoman first used macadamias in a beverage in early 2019 when it launched a macadamia flavoured soy milk. It proved highly successful, with Kikkoman’s spokesperson saying the distinctive flavour and aroma of the macadamia was well received by consumers. The popularity of the macadamia-soy milk blend was one of the factors behind the decision to develop a pure macadamia milk.
Kikkoman says its new product concept was created with careful consideration for Japanese consumer tastes. “Rather than just replicate a plant based milk product that is popular overseas, we developed our macadamia milk from scratch with the Japanese market in mind,” said their spokesperson.
“Our formulation has the flavour, thickness and satisfaction that is considered ideal by the Japanese consumer. In this regard, we believe it is an innovative product.”
The product is available nationally in supermarkets, convenience stores and online, with two variants on offer. ‘Original’ has a little extra sweetness to enhance the naturally creamy taste of macadamias, while ‘Unsweetened’ offers the natural sweetness and mild flavour of the nut.
Kikkoman is encouraging consumers to experience the unique flavour of the milk on its own at first, but plans to build the product story over time via additional usage suggestions, including in tea and coffee, over cereal or in recipes.
Powerful online promotion
COVID-19 has prevented the promotion of Kikkoman’s macadamia milk at live events, however the brand has a heavy digital presence unfolding to drive awareness and trial of its latest product.
The launch has also prompted an exciting brand collaboration that is giving Australian Macadamias fans in Japan the chance to win Kikkoman Macadamia Milk, in-shell macadamias and a TJ’s nutcracker, which is also launching in Japan at the same time.
The campaign is being featured on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the Australian Macadamias website with the activity to be amplified over the coming weeks by a high profile YouTuber and three Instagram influencers with a combined following of more than 2.9 million.
Looking to the future
The launch of Kikkoman Macadamia Milk aligns perfectly with the findings of our industry’s recent consumer research into the future of food, where it was revealed that Generation Z is increasingly gravitating towards plant-based products, whether for their own wellbeing or that of the planet and society at large. It also identified that as a foundational part of the plant-based movement, macadamias are an ideal ingredient for brands looking to engage and excite younger consumers.
So what does the Kikkoman team have planned for its macadamia milk beyond the launch?
“We wanted to start by introducing consumers to the pure taste of our product,” said the company’s spokesperson.
“But we are considering combining other flavours with macadamia milk in the future in a way that we feel will both surprise and delight consumers.”
Sounds like a recipe for success! We look forward to the next development in the Kikkoman Macadamia Milk journey.