Sakurafresh extends alcohol-free line

by Melita Kiely

Japanese alcohol-free beverage producer Sakurafresh has released five zero-ABV ‘liqueurs’ and ‘spirits’.

The five products became available at the end of September and comprise: Sakurafresh Amaretto, Amaro Italiano, Red Italian Bitter, Reposado and Negroni. Naveen MV, managing director of Sakurafresh, said: “These five products are all made from natural botanical extracts and are something very unique, yet familiar. “We wanted to be a disruptive force, and we thought we’ll start with zero-alcohol liqueurs. The alcohol-free market is not easy; it’s a tough game. But we believe our products are of excellent quality.” Furthermore, Sakurafresh is planning to release additional alcohol-free ‘spirits’, ‘liqueurs’ and apéritifs in the coming months. Scheduled to launch between January and March 2022, the new products will include: The High Malt Whisky, designed to emulate a Highland single malt; Himitsu Malt Whisky, designed to be an alcohol-free alternative to Japanese single malts; Ron Añejo Rum (a 0% ABV gold ‘rum’); and Ron Oscuro Rum (a 0% ABV dark ‘rum’). Between May this year and May 2022, Sakurafresh will have released 15 alcohol-free ‘spirits’ and ‘liqueurs’. Among these will be a dry vermouth and a floral ‘gin’ by May next year. “Our goal when you talk about ‘spirits’ and ‘liqueurs’, not bitters, is that by 2026/27, five years from next year, we’re looking at about 500,000 cases of ‘spirits’ and ‘liqueurs', at six 750ml bottles per case,” MV added. “By December 2023, we are aiming to get distribution in 50 countries.” Sakurafresh is also thought to be the world's first producer of alcohol-free cocktail bitters, MV added.
New production sites
Furthermore, Sakurafresh will also open a new production site in Japan in 2022, which was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. All of the brand’s products are made through flavour extraction, blending and maceration. No alcohol is used in the production process. The producer will also open a manufacturing plant in Mauritius. The facility in Mauritius will cover approximately 10,000 square feet, and is scheduled to go live in February 2022. During the Covid-19 pandemic, MV said the company “temporarily moved things to India” after the Japan site was forced to close. Sakurafresh’s production unit in India spans almost 25,000 square feet. “We already had a facility there,” MV said. “Zero-alcohol [production] was supposed to be in Japan, but we had to move to India. “For our North American market, the US and Canada, and Western European market, we will be doing bottling in those countries. “Mauritius will give us the advantage to enter African markets in the next five years.”