Suntory Beverage & Food Limited (,Santor? H?rudingusu Kabushiki-Gaisha) (commonly referred to as simply Suntory) is a Japanese brewing and distilling company group. Established in 1899, it is one of the oldest companies in the distribution of alcoholic beverages in Japan, and makes Japanese whisky. Its business has expanded to other fields, and the company now also makes soft drinks and operates sandwich chains. With its 2014 acquisition of Beam, Inc., it has diversified internationally and become one of the largest makers of distilled beverages in the world. Suntory is headquartered in Dojimahama 2-chome, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture.
Suntory was started by Shinjir? Torii (,Torii Shinjir?), who first opened his store Torii Sh?ten (?) in Osaka on February 1, 1899, to sell imported wines. In 1907, the store began selling a fortified wine called Akadama Port Wine. The store became the Kotobukiya company in 1921 to further expand its business and in 1923, Torii built Japan's first malt whisky distillery Yamazaki Distillery. Production began in December 1924 and five years later Suntory Whisky Shirofuda (White Label), the first single malt whisky made in Japan, was sold.
Due to shortages during World War II, Kotobukiya was forced to halt its development of new products, but in 1946 it re-released Torys Whisky, which sold well in post-war Japan. In 1961, Kotobukiya launched the "Drink Torys and Go to Hawaii" campaign. At the time, a trip abroad was considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. In 1963, Kotobukiya changed its name to "Suntory", taken from the name of the whisky it produces. In the same year, Musashino Beer Factory began its production of the Suntory Beer. In 1997, the company became Japan's sole bottler, distributor, and licensee of Pepsi products.
On April 1, 2009, Suntory became a stockholding company named Suntory Holdings Limited () and established Suntory Beverage and Food Limited (), Suntory Products Limited (), Suntory Wellness Limited (), Suntory Liquors Limited (), Suntory Beer & Spirits Limited (?&), Suntory Wine International Limited (), and Suntory Business Expert Limited (?).
On July 14, 2009, Kirin announced that it was negotiating with Suntory on a merger. On February 8, 2010, it was announced that negotiations between the two were terminated.
In 2009 Suntory acquired Orangina, the orange soft drink for 300 billion yen, and Frucor energy drinks for 600 million euros. On 2 July 2013 the company debuted on the Tokyo stock exchange and raised almost US$4 billion in the process.
In January 2014, Suntory announced an agreement to buy the largest U.S. bourbon producer, Beam Inc. (producers of Jim Beam) for US$16 billion.
This deal would make Suntory the world's third largest spirits maker. The acquisition was completed on April 30, 2014, when it was also announced that Beam would be renamed as Beam Suntory.
A Suntory Kakubin ("angled bottle") Whisky bottle and glass display at a Yamaya Liquor store in Iizaka, Japan
From the early 1990s, Suntory has collaborated extensively with Melbourne biotechnology firm Florigene to genetically engineer the world's first true blue rose, a symbol often associated with the impossible or unattainable. In 1991, the team won the intense global race to isolate the gene responsible for blue flowers, and has since developed a range of genetically modified flowers expressing colors in the blue spectrum, as well as a number of other breakthroughs extending the vase life of cut flowers.
In 2003, Suntory acquired a 98.5% equity holding in Florigene. Prior to this, Florigene had been a subsidiary of global agrochemicals giant Nufarm since 1999. In July 2004, Suntory and Florigene scientists announced to the world the development of the first roses containing blue pigment, an important step toward the creation of a truly blue colored rose.
In July 2011, Suntory Beverage and Food Limited together with PT GarudaFood from Tudung Group in Indonesia have agreed to make a new firm to produce non-alcoholic drink with 51 percent and 49 percent shares respectively. It will produce Suntory Oolong Tea, Boss and Orangina.
In April 2019 Suntory partnered with Drinkripples, an Israeli based company. As part of the collaboration Suntory will use Drinkripples' Ripple Maker machines to print branded and viral content on top of Suntory beer in Suntory certified locations and factories throughout Japan.
Media and advertising
Advertising poster of "AKADAMA Port Wine", the first nude advertising poster in Japan. Published in 1922 (Taisho 11). Directed by Toshiro Kataoka featuring Emiko Matsushima
Suntory and its various products are featured in the Ry? ga Gotoku/Yakuza series of games.
Suntory was one of the first Asian companies to specifically employ American celebrities to market their product. One of the most notable is Sammy Davis, Jr., who appeared in a series of Suntory commercials in the early 1970s. In the late 1970s, Akira Kurosawa directed a series of commercials featuring American celebrities on the set of his film Kagemusha. One of these featured Francis Ford Coppola (an executive producer of the film), which later inspired his daughter Sofia Coppola in her writing of Lost in Translation, a film which focuses on an Americanactor (played by Bill Murray) filming a Suntory commercial in Tokyo.
A Reuters photo by Toshiyuki Aizawa from July 2003 showed Suntory's marketing strategy of TV helmets. In this scheme, advertising company employees clad in orange jumpsuits wear television cameras that broadcast wide-screen digital feeds of the brewing company's commercial on top of their helmets.
Suntory produced several drinks under the name "Final Fantasy Potion", named for the weakest and most common healing item in the game. Each was released in Japan only for a limited time to promote the release of the Square Enix game Final Fantasy XII, the 10th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII, and the release of Dissidia Final Fantasy, which comes in two varieties. All the drinks are different despite sharing the name. For the release of Final Fantasy XIII, the Potion name was abandoned and replaced with Elixir, an item which typically heals one party member fully and restores all MP.