China’s Xiangpiaopiao pins hope on South Korea to boost juice tea performance in export markets

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Meco recently entered South Korea’s largest convenience store chain GS25 ©Meco
Meco recently entered South Korea’s largest convenience store chain GS25 ©Meco

Related tags China

China's first listed milk tea company Xiangpiaopao is expanding its juice tea retail presence in South Korea, pinning hopes on the country’s influence on other export markets - especially South East Asia.

Meco, the fruit juice tea brand owned by Xiangpiaopiao recently entered South Korea’s largest convenience store chain GS25, and plans to retail in another convenience store CU by the end of this year.

Meco is China’s juice tea pioneer launched in July 2018. Its shelf-stable beverages have recorded sales of RMB1bn (US$146m) in its first year of operations in China.

Meco is currently exported to more than 18 countries worldwide including Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Trendy market

Li Jigang, senior manager of the overseas business department at Xiangpiaopiao, told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “As a developed country in Asia, South Korea plays a role as a ‘bellwether’ in both economic and cultural sectors​.”

Hot sales in South Korea can have a positive impact on South East Asia as well as the entire overseas market​.”

Meco initially rolled out its products in areas where there are higher population of the Chinese community before going into more mainstream channels to target local consumers.

It is now present in more than 10,000 convenience stores and supermarkets as well as e-commerce platforms such as Coupang, Gmarket, Auction, 11st and Naver Smart Store in South Korea.

The firm is hoping to expand its presence in South East Asia, but Li acknowledged that with the ongoing pandemic situation, this year might not be the best time.

Compared to exploiting new market, we would pay more attention to our current market and distributors​.”

Health and freshness

Xiangpiaopiao started in 2005 as a pioneer of instant, shelf-stable milk tea. It continues to hold the largest market share in China for the last eight years.

The firm then launched its Meco fruit juice tea in 2018 to cater to the rising health trend in China.  Combining fruit juice and tea not only creates a new flavour profile, but also remove the dairy component found in typical milk teas.

Li added: “These days, the Chinese young generation attached great importance to healthy lifestyle. Among beverages, tea and juice have grown in popularity.”

According to Li, Meco products were made from pure and fresh ingredients, which sets it apart from other juice tea beverages in the market.

We use high-quality tea leaf such as Indian black tea rather than tea powder for the extracted tea base​.

Also, our beverages contain at least 10% pure fruit juices, exceeding the industry standard​.”

In addition, the firm utilises a cold aseptic filling technology from Germany which creates a shelf-stable product with a shelf life of 12 months.

Meco beverages do not contain additives, preservatives, flavour enhancers or sweeteners.

According to Li, Meco products are manufactured in its four factories in China, at Huzhou, Chengdu, Tianjin, and Jiangmen.

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