According to reports, COVID-19 has caused Japan’s ramune soda companies to go out of business.
Created by a Scottish pharmacist in Kobe back in the late 1800s, the iconic soda has long been beloved both in Japan and overseas. At the peak of its popularity, Japan has 2,300 factories producing ramune but in 2019 only 37 ramune companies remained. Following the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of companies were forced to close as sales dropped 35 percent (1,319,000 units in 2019, 855,000 units in 2020), while sales of ramune in plastic bottles fell 76 percent (1,160,000 units in 2019, 279,000 units in 2020).
According to the National Ramune Association, the drop in sales is due to restrictions brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. More specifically, summer festivals where ramune is a mainstay have not been held throughout Japan, izakaya restaurants have faced shortened operation hours and international tourists have not been able to visit tourist locations. With Japan now facing an extended state of emergency period, it seems that sales locally will not be recovering anytime soon. However, some ramune companies are switching focuses abroad, increasing shipments overseas to meet the growing interest in the iconic soda outside of Japan.