As heat wave grips Japan, demand spikes for products aimed at staying cool

by Chisato Tanaka

Staff Writer

Looking for effective ways to stay safe and cool as temperatures soar? Worried that the smell from your summer sweat is bothering those around you?

With an early end to the rainy season this year and a deadly heat wave gripping the nation, many companies have seen a surge in demand for products related to heatstroke and body odor.

From beverages to bed mattresses, companies are releasing a wide variety of products aimed at helping consumers survive the summer.

Many beverage companies are releasing bottled drinks with additional sodium, which can help prevent dehydration. Asahi Group Holdings Ltd. last week released a summer-limited version of its original barley tea called Jurokucha, which the company says can help prevent heat-related injuries. Three of the 16 different grains and spices in the tea have been replaced with edamame, yuzu citrus peel and an increased portion of salt.

With demand already high for Koimeno Calpis (rich Calpis), the richly flavored version of Asahi’s popular beverage made with fermented lactic acid, the company is increasing production volume by 30 percent compared to the same period last year. Rich Calpis flavors are twice as strong compared with normal Calpis, and the product contains a portion of snow salt from Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture.

Suntory Beverage and Food Co. has released a lineup of three salt-enhanced soft drinks to help fight the heat. The drinks, which can be kept frozen, include a summer-blend sports drink, a lychee and yogurt flavored offering, and a pineapple and lemon blend.

Avoiding heat exhaustion while sleeping is another key issue as a lack of sleep can trigger heatstroke, which has killed many elderly people.

In response, Francebed Co., a bed and mattress company, is marketing blankets that claim to dissipate heat and feel cool on the skin. Pillows and mattress covers made the same way are also popular. Among the firm’s heat-stress prevention products, demand for animal-shaped body pillows that have portions made out of the heat-dispersing fabric have shown the highest increase, soaring by 122 percent from last year.

An otter-shaped body pillow made with a heat-dispersing fabric is one of Francebed Co.’s popular summer products.
An otter-shaped body pillow made with a heat-dispersing fabric is one of Francebed Co.’s popular summer products. | FRANCEBED CO.

Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said an increase by 1 degree in temperature triggers about ¥288.4 billion in extra household expenditure.

Meanwhile, offensive body odors may not be harmful to health, but sweat-induced smells could trigger claims of so-called smell harassment in offices.

With that in mind, Mandom Co., a major maker of men’s cosmetics, saw sales of body fragrance papers surge by more than 50 percent during the last week of June from the same period last year. Company spokesman Keisuke Oku attributes the surge to the fact that, with the early end to the rainy season, people are increasingly concerned about their body odor.

“People, especially businessmen, are more concerned about their body odors than before because the concept of smell harassment has become more recognized,” said Oku.

In a Mandom survey of about 1,000 businessmen and women aged between 25 and 49 in Tokyo and Osaka last year, 61 percent said that they worry about their body odors in the summer, and about 56 percent said they find it very difficult to focus on their work if they are disturbed by offensive smells.

Amid such concerns, peach-scented body sheets, along with other simple aromas such as citrus, have become the company’s most popular products among businessmen, said Oku.

Heat stress symptoms include cramps, vomiting, dizziness and excessive fatigue. A convulsion is also a sign of severe heat injury. If you or someone around you is experiencing any of those symptoms, medical care should be sought immediately.

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