Japan opens window on a functional world

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Fat-blocking chocolate pellets, sparkling coffee, chewing gum that makes your skin smell beautiful and probiotic vinegar drinks are all doing a...

Fat-blocking chocolate pellets, sparkling coffee, chewing gum that makes your skin smell beautiful and probiotic vinegar drinks are all doing a roaring trade in Japan and could be winging their way into UK supermarkets before the decade is out, according to market researcher Mintel.

Speaking at the Food & Drink Futures conference organised by Food Manufacture​ and Leatherhead Food International, Mintel Global New Product Database (GNPD) custom solutions director David Jago said it was easy to dismiss them as wacky, but many of the concepts dominating new product development in the Japanese market could work well here. "Colour foods, apple vinegar and tomato vinegar based drinks, relaxation products and beauty foods and drinks could definitely translate," he said.

Big trends in Japan included colour foods, particularly black; glycaemic response foods containing indigestible dextrin; weight control products with fat burning green tea extracts; and antioxidant drinks. Other top sellers were beauty foods for skin and elasticity, hydration, relaxation drinks, and chocolates containing gamma-aminobutyric acid, an amino acid that helps decrease neuron activity.

Jago said cosmetic companies and others were moving into the food sector as boundaries began to merge. A good example was Fujifilm, which had launched a beauty beverage.