Japan’s Suntory Beverage sees Australia as model for canned cocktail expansion

(Corrects name of cocktail product in paragraph 4)

By Mayu Sakoda and Rocky Swift

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s Suntory Beverage & Food sees Australia as a model for integrating canned alcoholic drinks into offerings in other global markets, Chief Executive Makiko Ono said.

As Japan’s second-biggest domestic maker of soft drinks, Suntory Beverage has traditionally focused on non-alcohol offerings under the umbrella of global spirits maker Suntory Group.

This month, the group said it was putting together its alcohol and non-alcohol sides in Suntory Oceania, a A$3-billion ($1.94-billion) partnership serving Australia and New Zealand.

The company is considering building a factory in Australia’s northeastern city of Brisbane to produce canned drinks, such as its BOSS brand of coffee and its ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail, -196 Double Lemon, debuted in 2021.

“As a beverage company, this is our first time to make RTDs, so I think this will be a new model we can use in markets such as Europe,” said Ono. “I would like to use Australian as a reference case.”

Ono, who joined Suntory in 1982 and helped arrange the purchase of a French winery and of Britain’s Lucozade brand, said the European market still had lots of potential to introduce new energy drinks or coffee products.

In taking the top job at Suntory Beverage in April, Ono became the first woman to head a Japanese listed company valued at more than 1 trillion yen ($6.83 billion).

But the record was soon broken when Yumiko Takano became chief executive of Oriental Land, the operator of Tokyo Disneyland, in June.

“I think it’s a very positive trend,” Ono said, referring to Japanese women taking top jobs. “I think it will continue to increase.”


($1 = 146.4500 yen)

(Reporting by Rocky Swift; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)