JAPAN – Asahi Group Holdings, a Japanese global beverage and food business group, has teamed up with south-east Asian food-and-beverage group Universal Robina Corp. (URC) to launch a range of cultured-milk drinks in the Philippines.

Citing Nielsen data, URC said the cultured-milk segment is “the fastest-growing ready-to-drink beverage category” in its home market and will be marketed under Asahi’s milk brand Goodday.

The segment, which has an estimated market size of P6.5 billion (US$7.67B), is said to have outpaced yogurt and milk, while other dairy product categories have seen a decline.

Goodday, Asahi’s first foray into the Philippine beverage market will contain Lactobacillus Paracasei MCC1849 to help improve immunity, help prevent the common cold, promote antibodies, and enhance the effects of certain vaccines.

The cultured milk drinks will be offered in two packaging sizes, 350ml and 80ml, in three flavors: original, strawberry, and mango.

Hemalatha Ragavan, the CEO of the Japanese giant’s Asahi Beverages Philippines arm, said: “We strongly believe that Goodday will be made available in all of URC’s distribution networks across the Philippines, as the demand for immunity-boosting health beverages continues to rise.”

By being in partnership with the Philippines food and beverage giant, Asahi aims not only to address the needs of Filipino consumers but also to bring its class portfolio to global recognition.

Known for its beverage business that includes juices, bottled water, RTD teas, and soluble coffee, URC is also in partnership with Danone in the Philippines and also distributes Hong Kong-based Vitasoy’s range of soy-based drinks in the country.

Asahi’s presence in dairy includes the assets the Japanese drinks major acquired in 2014 from Etika International Holdings.

At the time, Asahi had been looking to expand its business in south-east Asia and the deal gave the company assets in Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Asahi’s physical operations in south-east Asia take in two factories in Malaysia, two in Indonesia, and one in Myanmar.

In addition, the company wants to expand into what it calls “premium” beverages and “minimize dependency” on condensed milk, a category in which the business gained a notable local position through the Etika transaction in the region.

Furthermore, the group is still looking to expand in south-east Asia, using its business in Malaysia as a “cash cow” to fund expansion into other regional markets.

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