Glico first launched the brand in Japan back in 2014, and China is its first overseas market.
Distributed by Shanghai Ezaki Glico Foods Co in August, the three SKUs of Almond Koka include original, sugar-free, and chocolate and these are sold on Alibaba’s Tmall.
Among the non-soy plant-based milk category on Tmall, Almond Koka ranked fifth. The top four were oat milk brands.
According to Jing Xu from the corporate communications division at Shanghai Ezaki Glico Foods Co, the decision to launch Almond Koka in China was due to Glico’s strong brand awareness among Chinese consumers.
The firm started its confectionery business in China in 1995, manufacturing Pocky, PRETZ and Pejoy.
“Recently the plant-based milk market is expanding in China, but the almond milk market is still very small. We think the size of China’s plant-based milk market has potential for the growth of almond milk,” Jing said.
According to market research firm AgencyChina, the plant-based milk market in China was worth RMB 55 billion (US$8.5 billion) in 2020, these included soy, almond, oat, walnut, peanut, coconut milk and more.
Jing told us Glico’s almond milk is fortified with vitamin E, an antioxidant, which other almond milk brands do not have.
In China, the firm targets social networking site (SNS) for marketing rather than mass media to engage early adopters.
The firm also plans to increase presence on other e-commerce platforms in 2022. “We will be careful to ensure brand value is well delivered through channels we select as it is still a new category to Chinese consumers,” Jing said.
Similarly, the firm will build brand awareness and penetration with the existing three products before considering introducing more products in the future. In Japan, Glico sells 11 SKUs under Almond Koka, including coffee, caramel and even a combination of almond, walnut and hazelnut milk products.
In Japan, the almond milk market grew 19% from 2019 to 2020 and is currently valued at JPY 10 billion (US$88 million), according to Almond Milk Laboratory.
The firm declined to share sales figures of Almond Koka in Japan.
Food loss and waste
In its home country, the month of October has been designated as Food Loss Reduction Month. Ezaki Glico has set a goal of reducing food waste by 95% in 2030.
The company categorises unprocessed food as food loss and processed food as food waste, and the idea is to work on reduce, replace, reuse, and recycle efforts.
In particular, the reduce initiative is the most important, since it plays a role in slashing food loss during the manufacturing process.
“It involves supply and demand forecasting, improvement of manufacturing processes, the extension of best-before dates, and innovations in raw materials and recipes,” Jing said.
For unprocessed foods, the firm hopes to recycle these into feed, fertiliser, methane, and others.
For food waste, the firm will take measures to deliver unwanted processed food to food banks.
Another food waste initiative is selling limited quantities of its popular Caplico snack that failed to meet appearance standards, at a lower price.
“In the future, we would like to think about what we can do to reduce the food loss that occurs not only within Glico but also on the supplier side, and the food waste generated on the retail side in cooperation with distributors and link this to reducing environmental impact and creating value,” Jing added.