It has now been over a year since the COVID-19 outbreak. Everyone from individuals to companies have had to adapt and come up with clever ways to deal with the pandemic. Many Japanese confectionery companies, whose products were popular among tourists, have adapted to this situation as Japan is currently unable to accept foreign tourists. The famous Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人) is very popular among tourists so let’s see how the manufacturer Ishiya has dealt with these trying times.
About Shiroi Koibito
Manufactured by Ishiya (石屋製菓) from Hokkaido, Shiroi Koibito means White Lover. White chocolate sandwiched between a rich langue-de-chat biscuit, Shiroi Koibito has been a favorite for over 40 years.
Why is it called White Lover? Hokkaido being the northernmost region of Japan receives immense snowfall in winter. The founder gazed at the falling snow one day and said “It’s snowing white lovers.” Since then, the sweet treat came to be called Shiroi Koibito.
In 1976, Shiroi Koibito became very popular in Japan and is said to have sold about 5 million pieces. Through the years, its reputation only kept growing and today the company sells about 200 million pieces both to domestic and international tourists every year.
With the pandemic, the sales of snacks and souvenirs from many companies took a massive hit. Shiroi Koibito sales were no exception and in 2020, Ishiya announced a halt in the production of its famous sweet.
Adaptation of Shiroi Koibito
Shiroi Koibito was heavily targeted towards foreign tourists. In their absence, Ishiya felt the need to make changes so it began marketing products to locals as well as starting online sales for those who can’t visit Japan.
Ishiya, the manufacturer, are currently in the process to start online sales for those in China.
New products released for sale in convenience stores nationwide
There were already Shiroi Koibito drinks available at the supermarket. But this time, two new products have been released in collaboration with the famous confectionery company Morinaga: Shiroi Koibito Ice Cream Sandwich (白い恋人サンドアイス) and Shiroi Koibito White Chocolate Drink (白い恋人ホワイトチョコレートドリンク). Available at select convenience stores for a limited time starting from February 1, 2021 and in stores nationwide from March 1, 2021.
● Shiroi Koibito Ice Cream Sandwich (白い恋人サンドアイス)
This ice cream sandwich is absolutely delicious, it has a similar flavor to the original Shiroi Koibito cookie.
White chocolate ice cream is sandwiched between the buttery, rich cookie and the ice cream has chunks of white chocolate. If you’re a fan of Shiroi Koibito, then you must try this!
● Shiroi Koibito White Chocolate Drink (白い恋人ホワイトチョコレートドリンク)
White chocolate flavored drink with the aroma of Shiroi Koibito, this one is quite sweet.
Since most people won’t be visiting airports where many of the Shiroi Koibito series were sold, you can buy these new products easily at a convenience store near you without having to travel.
● ISHIYA × SNOW MIKU
In addition to the above, during the period of February 8, 2021 – March 31, 2021, a special package box with Yuki Miku (雪ミク) is released for sale in store and online.
Yukimiku (雪ミク) is a character representing the white snowy landscape of Hokkaido. She is based on a pure white snow sculpture of a Vocaloid software called Hatsune Miku that was created for the Sapporo Snow Festival 2010.
Shiroi Koibito (白い恋人) 36-piece box of Snow Miku 2021 Ver.: 3,900 yen (incl. tax)
Cooperation within Hokkaido
Hokkaido is a prefecture that is fairly affected by COVID-19. Because it is colder than other prefectures, infections spread more easily and there were emergencies that affected tourism which in turn affected the economy. To give the region a boost, many collaboration projects have been taking place.
From March 1, 2021, Hotel JAL City Sapporo Nakajima Park will be opening Shiroi Koibito rooms: a Superior Twin (18,000 yen) and a Moderate queen (15,000). Fans of Shiroi Koibito can get an unprecedented experience here! The rooms will be available for booking for about a year.
There is also a luxury lunch course that will be available from March 1 – April 29, 2021 (3,000 yen) at Cafe Contrail (カフェ コントレイル).
Although some countries have rolled out vaccinations, it will still be a while till things get back to normal when it comes to international travel. We believe many other manufacturers will turn towards the domestic market and increase online sales activity to overcome these tough times.
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