Wondrous watermelon: Thai fruit juice specialist rides South Korean ‘tangmo-pun’ smoothie craze to launch new product

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Manee Manao is banking on the ongoing watermelon smoothie craze in South Korea to boost the success of its new watermelon puree business. ©Getty Images
Manee Manao is banking on the ongoing watermelon smoothie craze in South Korea to boost the success of its new watermelon puree business. ©Getty Images

Related tags watermelon Fruit juice smoothies

Thai natural fruit juice specialist Manee Manao is banking on the ongoing watermelon smoothie craze dubbed ‘tangmo-pun’ in South Korea to boost the success of its new frozen watermelon puree export business.

Manee Manao is the brainchild of Chiangmai Bioveggie, a firm best known in Thailand for its vegetable tablet supplements and health teas. When we last spoke to the firm, it had just tweaked its new product development and business expansion focus to invest further into Manee Manao’s lime juice​ exports.

Having established stable networks for its frozen lime juice in markets such as Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Caledonia where it has found a presence in supermarkets as well, the firm has branched out to attempt to do the same with watermelon puree.

“Our watermelon juice Manee Tangmo comprises of all-natural watermelon juice and pulp only with no sugar or additives,”​ Chiangmai Bioveggie General Manager Pattraporn Porntaweetat told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“For this product, we are very aware that the opportunity is very strongly in exports especially to Asian markets such as South Korea and Japan so although we launched first in Thailand as our base market, we know that the expansion potential is there.

“Lime juice has already established itself as a good ingredient for both cooking and beverages in this region, whether it be for RTD or new beverage creation such as cocktails and smoothies – but for watermelon, there is an ongoing craze that we see a good market opportunity for.

“This is in South Korea where watermelon smoothies are currently extremely popular – these are called ‘tangmo-pun’ in this market, and ‘tangmo’ actually means watermelon in Thai, so we have an added marketing advantage here as well.

“Given this format, the main target demographic for the watermelon puree is going to be the young demographic, and it is expected that the natural sweetness of the watermelon will be a big draw for them as well.”

Natural convenience

Porntaweetat also believes that its frozen fruit products can play on two of the biggest ongoing trends in the food and beverage industry today, naturalness and convenience, to carve out a space for the somewhat specialised product.

“Although many consumers are fond of watermelon and lime, there can be no doubt that it can be a messy affair to cut and prepare these,”​ she said.

“With our products, the main draw is convenience where consumers no longer need to cut the watermelons or limes so a lot of time is saved, plus there is no need to painstakingly remove the seeds which many people say can be a frustrating process.

“The other major trend here is that of natural ingredients, as we use only the raw fruit with no added sugar, colours or flavours.

“There isn’t even a need to add preservatives as we have chosen to market these as frozen products, so the shelf life is two years when frozen. Once opened, the watermelon can be kept for three days and the lime juice for three months.”

Given the nature of the fruit juice and puree, she also highlighted ambitions to not only target retail but also B2B in order to push up volume and demand.

“Restaurants and cafes were good targets for us for the lime juice as a lot of them wanted to be have large quantities of fresh juice on hand to make beverages or use for cooking Asian dishes,’​ she said.

“For the watermelon puree, in addition to consumers, we do also see cafes making watermelon-based desserts as good target markets in South Korea and Japan, as well as any specialising in watermelon smoothies.”

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