TOKYO -- Asahi Group Holdings, a major Japanese beverage maker, is targeting Southeast Asian markets with its Calpis lactic acid drinks by altering the formula to suit local palates.
Asahi has teamed up with a Malaysian subsidiary to develop original Calpis drinks for that nation. Come spring, it is to launch a new variation of Calpis in Vietnam.
With specially developed Calpis products built on the long-established brand and technology, Asahi hopes to gain a foothold in these burgeoning Southeast Asian markets.
In 2011, Asahi acquired Permanis, a big Malaysian beverage maker. Asahi and Permanis have made Calpis sweeter and sourer to better cater to Malaysians. They also received halal certification, which shows the product conforms to Islamic law.
Two kinds of specially developed Calpis, sold in 350-milliliter PET bottles, go for about 57 cents to 74 cents in convenience stores and other retailers.
In Vietnam, Asahi began selling Calpis on a pilot basis in 2011. This month it launched a Vietnamese unit to market a new drink that Asahi will tailor to local tastes.