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Asian consumers thirst after healthy soft drinks

By Guy Montague-Jones , 15-Dec-2010

New Datamonitor reports reveal that the health and wellness trend is dominating soft drink launches in both China and Japan.

The two countries may be at very different stages of development but consumers in both are showing an enthusiasm for healthy beverages.

In China, where Datamonitor estimates that soft drinks will grow 14 per cent (CAGR) over the next five years, the market research firm found that healthy drinks are leading lists of new launches.

Juice domination in China

In 2009, of the 300 new soft drinks launched in China, more than half were juices. And among the remainder, functional drinks and bottled water were well represented.

According to Datamonitor, the popularity of healthy drinks is down to growing concern about health brought on by food scandals and the outbreak of epidemic diseases. Government campaigns to promote fruits and fruit-based drinks have also played an important role.

Datamonitor analyst Saritha Pingali said: “The immense growth in the juices category during the year is attributable to a large extent to the growing health consciousness among consumers and the various government initiatives taken in the recent years to encourage juice drinking habit.”

Japanese markets

A similar trend for healthy drinks can be observed in Japan, even if the direction it has taken is slightly different.

“The overall trend towards health consciousness offers high potential for further growth in the Japanese soft drinks market,” said Gaurav Marchanda, a Datamonitor analyst and author of a new report on the Japanese soft drinks market.

Whereas juice dominates the new healthy offering on the Chinese beverage market, it is drinks carrying health claims like ‘high vitamins, ‘high calcium’ and ‘high polyphenols’ that are making a big impression in Japan.

With its ageing population, a lot of product development is focused on appealing to the older generation. This has prompted the launch of products with traditional flavours like green tea as well as drinks containing ingredients to promote health and combat age-related disorders. Examples on the soft drink market include antioxidant vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, co-enzyme Q10 and glucosamine.

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