Orion to cease production of 9% alcohol by volume “Watta Strong” chuhai due to health concerns

Orion to cease production of 9% alcohol by volume “Watta Strong” chuhai due to health concerns

“Watta Strong” canned chuhai, which Orion Breweries has decided to stop producing

April 23, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Eriko Tamaki

Orion Breweries, Ltd., (Keiju Hayase, Representative Director andPresident), announced April 22 that they would cease production of the high-alcohol version of their chuhai beverage, “Watta Strong.”

The high alcohol content in the “strong” version of chuhai beverages have been indicated as a contributing factor for alcoholism and damaging to health. These indications were the basis for the company to cease production, and “No longer sell strong chuhai.”

The Watta series was Orion’s first line of canned chuhai beverages, debuting in May, 2019. With an alcohol-by-volume (ABV) from 3% to 9%, they sold a variety of types including limited editions.

Their 9% ABV “strong” chuhai include the year-round “Fruits Shikuwasa mix” and “Dry shikuwasa” flavors, and the limited edition “passion fruit.” Production for these beverages ended at the end of January this year, and sales will end once the current stock has run out.

Strong chuhai are cheaper than beer or happoshu (a low-malt beer-like beverage), but have almost double the ABV than beer at 9%, which has gained the drink popularity as a “cheap drunk,” with sales that continue to expand.

However, according to doctors who are working on policies to combat alcoholism, a large intake of alcohol can lead to an increased risk of developing alcoholism.

According to Orion Breweries, since the debut of Watta Strong through March 24 of this year, approximately 1.66 million cans have been sold for a sales revenue of just over 170 million yen, roughly 40% of the Watta series sales total.

The brewery’s PR representation explained, “Upon learning the societal harm caused by high-ABV beverages, we conducted an investigation internally. As we have an obligation to contribute to the health of Okinawans, we have decided to stop selling high-ABV beverages.”

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)

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