Ribena has been on a roll in breaking out of the traditional moulds it has been associated with for some 80 years since its establishment, most recently making a move out of its trademark blackcurrant products with its first strawberry-only beverage launch in Malaysia.
In addition to a diversification of flavours, the firm is now making a play out of its traditional juice beverage segment into the snacking category by positioning its Ribena Jelly product as a healthy snacking alternative to sweet and savoury snacks.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we noted that snacking habits have changed for many consumers and now both people working from home and at the office tend to turn to coffee or biscuits to munch on, to reenergize and perk themselves up in order to finish the day,” Suntory Beverage and Food Malaysia’s Head of Marketing, Beverage Lam Hui Min told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“[To cater to this snacking demand], we introduced Ribena Jelly as a healthy yet refreshing alternative, which comes in a squeezeable cheerpack that can be conveniently stored both at home or in the office.
“Consumers can squeeze and snack on the chewy jelly with Ribena’s signature blackcurrant taste, and it is also packed with enough vitamin C to hit 100% of daily requirements and uses no artificial sweeteners, making it a healthier pick-me-up for a mid-day snack break.”
At present, this jelly is only available in blackcurrant flavour, but given Ribena’s newfound enthusiasm for innovating beyond its conventional box, more variants are definitely on the way.
“Since its launch, we’ve received great reception to this chewy jelly product, indicating great potential [in this] segment, and we will definitely look replicate this in more innovative, creative flavours in the future,” Lam added.
“Consumers definitely want healthier products that taste great whilst still helping them to stay fit and well, especially in the wake of the pandemic – [so] in addition to the vitamin C content, we’re also continuously working on sugar reduction for a few of our products such as Ribena Jelly while retaining quality taste.”
Although Ribena Jelly signifies the firm’s move into the snacking category, it in fact can function as both a simultaneous snack and beverage, which would also appeal to consumers looking to reduce caloric intake. The product itself is already considered low-calorie, at 100kcal per serving.
Ribena Jelly is available in various supermarkets, convenience stores, online platforms and more across Malaysia, and is retailing for around MYR2.90 (US$0.66) per 170g pack.
Big name interest
Although this product is a first for Ribena, the jelly-drink category is not a new one in the APAC region, particularly in Japan where such items have been around for a long time.
One example is Coca-Cola Japan’s Purun Purun Qoo Minute Maid Jelly Drink, which also markets itself as a healthier alternative with a 40% fruit juice content, no preservatives added, and low-calories (93 kcal) per 125g pack.
Coca-Cola Japan is definitely ahead of the game in terms of flavours, with multiple options including grape, muscat grape, mandarin orange, peach, apple and more already available, but the product range is not readily available in Malaysia or Singapore, and not at affordable prices (a three-pack can go for above S$30/US$21.60 online in Singapore), so Ribena certainly still has a market advantage in this area. That said, it also faces competition from other smaller brands in the region.