Key trends in a crowded and competitive market for health-positioned drinks
Not everyone’s understanding of the term “natural” is the same, however, consumers walking down supermarket aisles all have an eye out for products with labels or packaging bearing the term. Euromonitor International’s research findings show that the description of “natural” is a self-governed practice from the manufacturer’s perspective; there is no conclusive and scientific definition for the term “natural” as it relates to foods and beverages.
The lack of a clear definition may cause confusion or harm the believability of natural claims. In view of the mindful eating trend, manufacturers are compelled to explore new ingredients for product development, and nurture “the next big thing” following the great success of coconut water.
Growth Categories: Natural Mineral Water Naturally healthy (NH) mineral water benefits from multiple possible consumption occasions, premium hydration, and being an alternative for hydration during and after sports activities, as consumers are conscious of the sugar content and artificial ingredients in sports and energy drinks. The fact that every NH mineral water brand has a specific, identifiable source allows the brand owner to build a marketable story, and consequently an association with trust and traceability. This fits well with consumer desire for authenticity, traceability, and transparency. Sales of NH still spring water are also expected to advance rapidly, which is likely to spur manufacturers to locate new natural sources. The Wonderful Co’s Fiji water has a distinctive clean taste, purity, and country of origin (product identity); Fiji water is a rising star in NH water, with global sales increasing by 56% over 2011-2016.
China’s Water Opportunity The huge potential in bottled water in China has attracted plenty of players, and it is one of the most crowded consumer markets. However, water companies also face regulatory changes. A new pricing system requires large users of water sources to pay higher extraction fees. In addition, previously there was no clear definition as to how to name different types of bottled water. Thus, manufacturers often gave their brands various “fancy/marketing” names. In May 2015, the National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China released updated National Standards for Packaged Drinking Water GB19298-2014. The new standards prevent companies that sell other still bottled water from naming their products commercially and stipulate that bottled water should only fall into two categories: natural mineral bottled water or other drinking water. This change put natural spring water (as defined by Euromonitor) into a marginal category.
In terms of product naming, to meet the requirements of the new standard, the name given to a packaged drinking water product should be scientifically correct. It is not permissible to name a product by one, or several ingredients, except for water. The misleading practice of using creative marketing descriptions for water products will be regulated. The change will put pressure on manufacturers’ marketing strategies, especially if they wish to expand in functional water.
Organic Juice: ‘Super Natural’ Credentials In most markets, organic juice is seen as a super premium and super natural juice. The global retail value sales of commercially packaged organic juice amounted to around $2 billion in 2016; unsurprisingly, sales are concentrated in developed countries. North America generates the highest share of sales, accounting for half the global value. It is expected that Russia, Brazil, and India will also grow rapidly in the next few years, while sales in China will remain negligible. Given the healthy image of organic food and beverages, and the importance of organic farming as a sustainable agricultural model, both volume and value opportunities exist for organic juice in the long term. General Mills has recently made investments to expand its organic sourcing.
However, highly regulated organic agricultural methods and inadequate financial support for organic farming in some countries may limit the mass production of organic fruit and vegetables. While the EU has its own organic labeling rules and certification, other countries may have their own rules. This makes it difficult to sustain a globally viable brand with the organic certified label.
Summary Ancient wisdom such as TCM offers a window of opportunity for manufacturers given that botanicals fit perfectly with the word “natural.” The popularity of coconut water will continue as major companies are investing heavily in the product. Organic juice is expanding rapidly, however, growth is likely to be limited by costly certification and conversion to organic farming.
NH mineral water is a regulated category in most countries, and the process of application for such labels can be long and approval difficult to come by. Some TCM herbs may not be palatable to a Western audience and it takes resources to nurture a consumer base. Organic certification and farming is desirable; but to make it scalable and economically sustainable remains a challenge.
SOURCE - EUROMONITOR INTERNATIONAL, 2019.