Photo/IllutrationThe Snow Dessert Yukihana device to shave frozen soymilk (Provided by T-ARTS Co.)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

A Twitter post showing a different way to enjoy soymilk has altered the business strategy of a once-skeptical beverage giant.

Kikkoman Beverage Co.’s soymilk products come in paper cartons and are designed to be sucked through straws.

But a Twitter user in late April last year shared another way to savor the beverage’s rich taste.

“You can make ‘addictive’ ice cream just by putting soymilk in paper cartons in a freezer,” the tweet said.

The post was retweeted 77,000 times and earned 189,000 likes on Facebook by late May that year.

A succession of replies showed images of users’ own soymilk-based ice cream, as well as coffee floats featuring the soy ice.

Kikkoman Beverage, however, initially appeared embarrassed by all the attention to its product.

“We very much appreciate the enthusiastic response, but we are also concerned that the paper cartons could explode after freezing and the soymilk could lose its quality through cooling,” a Kikkoman Beverage public relations official said.

The company in May last year commissioned a dedicated agent to test whether freezing could lead to any problems with the containers or content.

The results showed that freezing caused “no safety issues.”

However, the flavor could be spoiled if the frozen soymilk is defrosted.

So Kikkoman Beverage began calling on consumers to “enjoy frozen soymilk like ice cream without letting it melt.”

From there, the company went with the flow.

This year, the labels on some of Kikkoman Beverage’s 200-milliliter soymilk products, each priced at 90 yen (83 cents), also recommend eating them as ice cream.

In May, it released soymilk bottles flavored with “kyoho” grapes and azuki beans, which will be available only until late October, targeting those who want to eat frozen soymilk.

According to company officials, frozen grape-flavored soymilk is best eaten as a dessert on hot days, while azuki soymilk ice can become a substitute for “zenzai” cold azuki soup.

Kikkoman Beverage also opened a special page on its website to promote frozen soymilk. It says banana-based frozen soymilk is the most popular among its employees, followed by the vanilla-ice-cream-like product and mango-flavor soymilk.

Working with toy maker T-ARTS Co., Kikkoman Beverage released an ice shaver called Snow Dessert Yukihana for 3,800 yen before tax on June 20 so that users can create “kakigori” from its 200-milliliter frozen soymilk products.

Soymilk production in Japan rose to 363,000 kiloliters in 2018, the eighth consecutive annual increase, buoyed by the growing number of health-conscious consumers.

Kikkoman Beverage’s soymilk sales rose from 34.6 billion yen in fiscal 2017 to 37.3 billion yen in fiscal 2018.

“We will continue developing products that will wow not only adults but also children,” a Kikkoman Beverage public relations official said.