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June 5, 2001

Taisho and Asahi Soft Drinks Team up for Vending Machine Sales

Taisho Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (president: Akira Uehara) announced today an agreement to cooperate with Asahi Soft Drinks, Co. Ltd. (president: Masumi Uematsu) on the sale of its products through vending machines.

The two companies are jointly designing a vending-machine size bottle (100 ml, ¥150) for Taisho's Lipovitan D nutritional drink, which will be available in the machines that Asahi Soft Drinks directly operates. Asahi owns 171,000 vending machines, but directly operates 40,000. National distribution will begin July 23.

In March 1999, the Japanese regulations governing drink product sales were relaxed and several products were reclassified as quasi drugs, allowing them to be distributed through such channels as convenience stores, supermarkets and station kiosks. Consumers of these products have increased, particularly in the women and student demographics, and overall sales have increased an estimated 15 percent.

Taisho Pharmaceuticals is a pioneer in the nutritional drink market, releasing Lipovitan D in March 1962. Following the 1999 deregulation, Taisho actively explored new distribution channels beyond its mainstay pharmacy and drug store distribution. Unit sales from convenience stores, supermarkets and station kiosks have reached approximately 100,000 units since 1999. Taisho is confident that vending machine sales, through the alliance with Asahi Soft Drinks, will further increase sales.

Asahi Soft Drinks has a proven track record in locating vending machines in areas that guarantee the highest profitability. The addition of the bestselling Lipovitan D, which now holds more than 40 percent of the drink market, to its vending machine lineup is expected to attract more business than ever and to maximize vending machine sales of all drinks.