News On Japan

90% of Ramune Production Now for Overseas Markets

TOKYO, Jul 08 (News On Japan) - The quintessential Japanese summer beverage, Ramune, is experiencing a surge in popularity overseas. However, a shortage of bottles is hindering production, leaving manufacturers in a difficult situation.

Ramune, a carbonated drink with a history spanning over 170 years in Japan, is a summertime favorite for many. Traditionally enjoyed at festivals and sports events, it has now become a global sensation, with the majority of production aimed at international markets.

Kimura Hideto, President of the National Ramune Association, oversees a company where 90% of the Ramune produced is for export. The appeal of Ramune abroad can be attributed to its unique cultural connection.

"In Southeast Asia, where it's hot year-round, Ramune sells consistently throughout the year. In Europe and America, it's popular during Christmas and New Year parties, particularly among those who don't drink alcohol," Kimura explains. "Unlike in Japan, where it's mainly a summer drink, it now has year-round demand globally."

The rise in global affection for "Japanese Ramune" can be traced back to a significant milestone.

Severe Bottle Shortage Impedes Production

Ramune's overseas demand surged after "Washoku" (traditional Japanese cuisine) was recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013, bringing attention to Japanese beverages. This newfound global interest, coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw a decline in domestic events like festivals and sports days, pushed producers to focus on the international market. Production for export has since tripled compared to a decade ago. Yet, challenges remain.

"The shortage of glass bottles is a bottleneck for us," Kimura states. "We simply can't keep up with production."

The domestic glass bottle shortage has reached a critical level, exacerbated by the pandemic, which caused some bottle manufacturers to halt production and led to a decline in bottle recycling due to increased exports. Although some Ramune is now packaged in PET bottles, this is not a preferred option.

"With glass bottles, the sound of the marble clinking is appealing, but with PET bottles, it’s not the same. The carbonation also escapes quicker, resulting in a shorter shelf life, making them less popular overseas," Kimura notes.

Despite the ongoing bottle shortage, Kimura remains optimistic about the future of "Japanese Ramune."

"We are working with glass bottle manufacturers to increase production capacity. By 2030, we aim to double our output. The market still has plenty of room to grow," he says.

Source: ANN

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