National

Product developer says 'mothers' love' is key ingredient in popular drink

by Asako Takaguchi

Kyodo

The young product developer behind a popular Moroccan-inspired soft drink knew she could score a hit with Japanese customers after tasting the flower-scented water widely drunk in the North African country.

Kumiko Zushi, 27, is a developer of Sparkling Water, a new drink added to Kirin Beverage Co.’s “Sekai no Kitchen kara” (From World’s Kitchen) series inspired by mothers’ recipes in other countries.

Sparkling Water from Morocco is an unsweetened carbonated water made through steam distillation using sweet elderflowers and lemon peel.

“We intended to produce something that is innovative, yet not too eccentric,” Zushi, who is in charge of product development at Kirin’s marketing department, said.

The beverage sold about 7.2 million bottles within roughly a month of its release in June, far exceeding expectations.

“I think all of the world’s wisdom and innovation originates with mothers’ love for their families,” she said

Zushi, who is from Asaka, Saitama Prefecture, had been a big fan of the series, which had released beverages featuring flavors inspired by mothers from countries such as Sweden, France, and Thailand, since she was at university.

In 2009, she entered Kirin and accumulated experience in the field of marketing at its Hiroshima office for the next 2½ years.

In 2011, Zushi applied for an opening position in the marketing department at the head office and was assigned to a new product development team.

In the process of researching sugar-free carbonated beverages from around the world, Zushi became particularly interested in distilled flower water in Morocco.

She flew to the North African country twice and visited markets and ordinary families.

She found out that local mothers enjoyed flower scents in their daily life by not only using it in cooking but also in such ways as sprinkling it on visitors as a token of hospitality.

During the stay, Zushi had the opportunity to chat with a mother alone in her kitchen over a broad range of issues from her family history to ways to preserve food and to fashion.

“The chat with her made me realize that this country’s specific climate and environment helped produce the wisdom (of making flower water),” Zushi said.

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