Home-based cafe experience: Sanitarium targets ASEAN with new plant-based barista milks
The Barista range was designed to be added to lattes, cappuccinos or other common beverages consumed at foodservice outlets by consumers making these at home, given the current COVID-19 situation.
“In the current COVID-19 climate as [consumers] spend more time at home, the So Good Barista range offers plant milk consumers a premium café experience from the comfort of home,” Sanitarium General Manager (Sales) Steve Beams told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“[These milks have been] formulated to achieve the same texture and consistency consumers would expect from [any] café - So Good Barista is basically the milk for the home latte [connoisseur].”
The original So Good range of plant-based milks already covered almond, soy, coconut and cashew-based milks. The Barista range will comprise three variants which are almond, soy and a new plant for the firm as a whole: Oat
“Oat is an emerging plant milk variety, and we anticipate it will be a big hit with consumers who traditionally prefer dairy milk in their coffee but taste has held them back from making the plant based switch because oat milk is incredibly similar [to regular dairy],” said Beams.
The Barista range is already available in Australia and will be launched into the rest of the APAC region progressively.
“Throughout the APAC region, particularly in South-East Asia, we are seeing growing interest in healthy eating - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines have been stand-out growth markets for us in the region recently with the original So Good plant milks leading the way,” said Beams.
“[The introduction of the So Good Barista range is adding on to this, and also building on] terrific early sales in Australia. With a large segment of the APAC population more sensitive to dairy products, and the popularity of the UHT format, we see immense opportunity for the So Good brand in the region.
“Our products have a strong and inherent alignment with the current global trend towards plant based foods, which sees consumers seeking products with better health and sustainability credentials – and this trend represents a strong growth opportunity for So Good plant milks.”
In addition to the Barista range, Sanitarium will also launching flavoured varieties of the original almond milk, namely Chocolate and Vanilla flavours.
Marketing and retail
Throughout the APAC region, Sanitarium’s products are available through both traditional trade and through major online platforms, but Beams observed that COVID-19 seems to have driven growth towards online sales.
“Offline (bricks & mortar) has been a starting point for our brands, but [we] have seen purchases from online platforms increase as the world evolves and buying habits change,” said Beams.
“COVID-19 seems to have accelerated this shift, but it’s too early to say how many of these new online customers will continue to source grocery products online when infection control measures ease.”
He added that the online approach has been important for the firm’s marketing efforts as well, especially as it has shifted to focus more on a brand-building marketing strategy in recent years.
“Social media is a big part of this [brand-building] approach in Thailand and Singapore, and we’re steadily attracting fans through Facebook and Instagram with support from popular influencers and key opinion leaders,” he said.
“In APAC, Sanitarium’s Australian heritage and nutrition credentials are also strong leverage points with consumers, not to mention the great taste of products like So Good.”
Bushfires and COVID-19 response
When the Australian bushfires hit at the beginning of the year, Sanitarium did not experience any significant threat in a physical sense, but Beams admitted that supply chains saw some challenges initially.
“The sustained drought that preceded the fires did pose some challenges for Australian-grown raw materials for us, in particular wheat yields [such as for our Weet-Bix products], which had some impact on our business. Thankfully these conditions now seem to be easing,” he said.
As for COVID-19 impacts, Beams said that Sanitarium managed to continue manufacturing products to meet ‘unprecedented demand from consumers both locally and abroad’, allowing it to be in a position to offer help to more stricken communities instead.
“Our bushfire community care response was underway when COVID-19 broke out,” he said.
“We saw the food relief crisis escalate as many vulnerable Australians were unable to access essential groceries and thousands of jobs were shed as a result of lockdown measures, [so opted to help] via our existing partnership with Foodbank and another one with Eat Up to get emergency food hampers to families, donating over 50,000 products.”