Japan opening second factory to feed Kit Kat-crazy tourists

The myriad variety of chocolate at an airport duty free shop. Source: Shutterstock

DUE to the overwhelming demand for rare Kit Kat flavors, Nestle in Japan announced they will be opening a second factory to meet the growing appetite among tourists for unusual variations of the iconic chocolate bar.

The company said the brand would be operating the factory in the western city of Himeji in August, which would be dedicated to making upscale, pricier versions of the wafer-and-chocolate snack, Bloomberg reported.

Offering more than 300 flavors – including wasabi, green tea, and sake for more than four decades – Nestle SA said this was the first time in 26 years they were building a factory to meet higher demand.

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The new factory would likely be a “safe bet”, Bloomberg reported, as the country boasts the world’s second-largest consumption of Kit Kat.

It doesn’t hurt the the archipelago is experiencing a tourism boom, with spending among visitors achieving a record JPY2.5 trillion (US$22.5 billion) in the first half of the year, based on figures by the Japan National Tourism Organization.

At its popular Kit Kat Chocolatory in an underground shopping center connected to Tokyo Station, high-end flavors sell for more than JPY1,500 (US$13) per package. Boxes of some seasonal gourmet flavors, such as raspberry and grapefruit can fetch up to JPY3,500 (US$31), more than 10 times the cost of a regular Kit Kat bag, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, the company opened its renovated Chocolatory flagship store in Tokyo’s main shopping district in Ginza.

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“We take pride in our unique flavors and I think that makes Japan special in the Kit Kat world,” Nestle Japan spokesman Takuya Hiramatsu was quoted as saying.

Also popular in North America and Europe, Kit Kat debuted in the United Kingdom in 1935. The snack is also quite the novelty in Japan as its name resembled “Kitto Katsu”, translating to “sure win” in Japanese.

Owing to its name, the snack has been made popular as gifts in Japan, especially during examination periods where packages are adorned with phrases like “Do Your Best!” and “Believe in Yourself!”.