A battle has broken out for the hearts and minds of Japan's notoriously sweet-toothed consumers as two of the key players in the donut market unleash their new ranges for the spring season.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, the local arm of the US donut giant, is first off the mark with a selection of four new products from March 15.
The new varieties include the Pure Banana, a shell-shaped donut with condensed milk, maple sugar and banana chips, and the Rare Cheese Cake, which comes decorated and topped with lemon sauce. The line is rounded out by the Coffee Beans donut, which has a coffee milk filling and is topped with espresso beans, and the Soy Milk Cake, an old-fashioned Krispy Kreme variety made with soy milk.
"We add new items to our line-up in the spring and autumn of each year and we are increasing our presence in Japan with the opening of new stores in Nagoya and Osaka in the coming months," Nozomi Nagumo, a spokeswoman for the company, told Relaxnews.
"We do not have as many outlets as other donut restaurants - there are only 12 at the moment - so we differentiate ourselves by making ours hot and fresh," she said.
Krispy Kreme is up against stiff competition from the domestic donut giant Mister Donut, which is operated by Duskin Co. and has similar expansion plans.
Mister Donut has 1,300 stores across Japan and is adding six new items to its menus on March 20.
It will launch two types of Okinawa Brown Sugar Donuts - one with soybean powder and the other with brown sugar syrup - and the Tokyo Pretzel-Ring Honey, which incorporates sea salt made from deep-ocean water collected from off the Izu Peninsula, south of Tokyo.
The other pretzel rings are coated with crispy chocolate or a maple and almond topping, while the Shio-Azuki donut has a filling of sweet red bean paste from Hokkaido, the most northerly of Japan's main islands.
"These new products have been developed by an in-house, all-woman project team who examined what young women wanted," said spokeswoman Kyoko Tsunemi. "Their requirements - such as donuts made from specially selected ingredients - have been reflected in these new products."