South East Asian sparkle: Remedy Drinks eyes Vietnam as next big market for its kombucha

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Australian beverage firm Remedy Drinks is eyeing Vietnam as the next big market for its kombucha. ©Remedy Drinks
Australian beverage firm Remedy Drinks is eyeing Vietnam as the next big market for its kombucha. ©Remedy Drinks

Related tags: kombucha, Vietnam

Australian beverage firm Remedy Drinks is eyeing Vietnam as the next big market for its kombucha, banking on a rising health and wellness awareness trend and product ability to be transported without refrigeration.

Apart from its home base in Australia, Remedy is already present in several other countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, as well a number of Asian countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

“We’ll be launching in Vietnam as well later this year, latest by 2021 – [our] third market in South East Asia,”​ Remedy Co-Founder Emmet Condon told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Kombucha has become increasingly popular in our existing Asian markets like Hong Kong and the Philippines. [Awareness] of kombucha and fermented drinks has continued to grow in the region [such as in] Vietnam, so we’re excited to be launching there [and bringing our] kombucha to the market.

“At Remedy, we follow the traditional method of making kombuchawhich involves natural fermentation of sweet tea with a live culture (a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast or SCOBY)to create a sparkling sweet and sour drink containing live cultures, tea polyphenols and organic acids – These support gut health as well as overall health and wellbeing.

“Using a traditional kombucha brewing process means that no sugar is added, so our kombucha also contains no sugar naturally.”

Condon also emphasised that Remedy has done rigorous testing to prove that its kombucha can be transported long distances and even be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration, making it safe for export even to relatively warmer countries like Vietnam.

A common consumer concern when it comes to buying packaged kombucha that is unrefrigerated surrounds continued fermentation within the package which would make it overly sour, tart or acidic.

We've tested throughout shelf life to prove without a doubt that our range of live, raw, unpasteurized drinks are A-OK both in and out of the fridge – this is due to our live cultures being super strong and healthy, and because there’s naturally no sugar in the drinks,”​ he said.

Condon remained coy on the specific flavours that the firm intends to export to Vietnam but said that there was a ‘huge range’​ of flavours currently available, depending on the market.

“Current fan favourites are Raspberry Lemon and Ginger Lemon, and we’ve just introduced two new flavours: Mango Passion and Passionfruit,”​ he said.

Challenges in Asia

That said, the kombucha market in Asia is still considered to be extremely undeveloped as compared to Remedy’s home ground in Australia, a situation that the firm is aware of an attempting to change via consumer education.

“Although kombucha has been gaining popularity [in Asia], category awareness is still relatively low,”​ said Condon.

“The Australian functional health beverage category [as a whole] is in a different stage of maturity compared to other markets in Asia. [We are aware of this], and that there is understandably more work to be done around product education [before kombucha becomes mainstream].”

Remedy recently secured a deal with Starbucks in the Philippines to range its Peach and Raspberry Lemonade kombuchas in-store, which Condon deemed an example of how Remedy wants to enter ‘mainstream, everyday outlets’​ in Asia to reach more consumers.

“Another challenge we saw in the region recently – and not just Asia - was of course when COVID-19 hit – our sales via impulse formats and on-the-go channels took a hit due to lockdowns, but luckily multi-serve formats (purchasing multiple cans in bulk) have continued to grow,”​ said Condon.

Dominance back home

Whilst challenges still abound in its Asian markets, back home Remedy enjoys what it claims to be a ‘clear market lead’ in the fermented beverages category.

“The Nielsen AU/NZ Grocery and Convenience Scan has shown that Remedy now has around 50% of the fermented beverage and is also the market leader in New Zealand,”​ said Condon.

“In just three years, the household penetration of kombucha in Australia has grown from 6% to 14%, [and we’ve benefitted here as] a Remedy drink is sold in grocery in Australia every three seconds, [based on our 2019 numbers].”

 

We’ll be shining the spotlight on Probiotics and Prebiotics in our Growth Asia 2020 interactive broadcast series. Register for free here​.

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