The closure of offices and home seclusion due to COVID-19 have had a negative impact on sales of shelf stable soup. Most commonly sold in beverage cans and found in the vending channel and convenience store chains, shelf stable soup has suffered from people not commuting or spending time outside.
Miso soup, in particular, is witnessing a shift towards private label products, which is expected to continue, as its relatively simple flavour means that consumers are less hesitant to opt for unfamiliar brands and products. However, when it comes to other popular soups, like corn cream and potato pottage, consumers retain a strong preference for leading brands such as Knorr and products from Pokka Sapporo.
Ajinomoto remains the largest player in soup, thanks to its strong presence in shelf stable soup, dehydrated soup and instant soup and the strong marketing support behind its Knorr brand. The company utilises various platforms in its marketing activity, including social networking and TV advertisements featuring famous actress, Haruna Kawaguchi.
While soup does not have as strong a focus on the prominent health and wellness trend in Japan as it does in many Western markets, highlighted by the minor role of chilled soup in the market, consumer health-consciousness is set to play an important part in the development of miso soup during the forecast period. Miso, a paste/sauce made of fermented soybeans, is one of the main ingredients of miso soup.
The return to normal social and economic activity and the resumption of hectic, on-the-go lifestyles are set to revive demand for products such as ready-to-drink soups. These products are typically purchased from vending machines or convenience stores and consumed immediately, usually in cold weather, though the development of cold soup products was a key focus of development for companies such as Ajinomoto and Pokka Sapporo before the outbreak of COVID-19 as they sought to expand the range of potential consumption occasions and reduce the seasonality of sales.
Dehydrated soup is experiencing strong competition from cooking sauces and meal kits, which are seen as more nutritious options amongst health-conscious consumers looking for convenience, as well as more capable of appealing to the growing interest in new flavours and cuisines. Moreover, dehydrated soup faces competition from instant soup, which is seen as more convenient.
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This report originates from Passport, our Soup research and analysis database.
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