Otsuka product development stories

Calorie Mate Product story

Creating a new genre of nutritionally balanced food

A convenient form of nutrition, to support modern lifestyles, that emerged from research into clinical food.

The original idea was to make nutritional foods for patients easy to consume

It was the 1970s, and Japanese lifestyles were becoming increasingly modernized. Western diets and instant foods were rapidly making inroads, while there was an increase in people skipping breakfast and eating later at night. Calorie Mate emerged from research into clinical foods that aimed to provide nutrition to hospitalized people who cannot eat a meal normally and so cannot be discharged. HINEX-R, the precursor to Calorie Mate, is a line of concentrated foods that can be consumed in place of intravenous nutrition. Calorie Mate is a balanced blend of five nutrients essential to good health in a convenient format. It was developed as a consumer product for healthy people with on-the-go eating habits. However, the development process was no mean feat. Having a product rich in nutrients necessitates the need for a large number of ingredients. These must be evenly distributed to ensure the balance of nutrients in every single bite is the same. This required a process of emulsification to combine ingredients that would not normally mix. Furthermore, with the emphasis first and foremost on nutritional balance and great taste, changing the quantity of a single nutrient would then require adjusting the quantities of every other ingredient. It was a laborious process of successive trial and error.

Creating public awareness of nutritionally balanced foods

Following a long development process, Calorie Mate was launched in 1983. A single block contains 100 kilocalories, while the canned drink contains 200 kilocalories. In an era when food product labels didn't list calories, Calorie Mate was revolutionary, clearly displaying both caloric and nutritional content. While there were many products promoted as having rich nutritional content, none pitched the idea of a nutritionally balanced food.

Seeking to generate an understanding amongst consumers, at first Otsuka targeted athletes, who require proper nutrition and simultaneously need to control their weight. It received a warm reception and word spread to doctors and nutritionists. The product entered the market just as a growing awareness of dieting swept Japan. In the face of concerns regarding the risks of extreme diets, Calorie Mate proved to be a popular and convenient choice. Today, the product is the best-selling item of its kind in Japan.* We continue to promote its importance in nutritional supplementation in sports, when dieting, as a quick breakfast, at work and school, as well as having some stocked away in case of a natural disaster.

  • *INTAGE data: SRI; Nutritionally balanced foods market (categories: cookies, biscuits, cereals, cakes), accumulated sales, January - December, 2020 (revenues)
Calorie Mate

Contains a good balance of five major nutrients (protein, fat, minerals, vitamins and sugars) and comes in a variety of forms to suit consumer needs -block, jelly and liquid.