China Beverage Market
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China Beverage Market


 History of Chinese beverage industry

In the 1979-1995 period, the market was mainly made of gas beverages, such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

From 1996 to 2000, the bottled water like Wahaha, Robust and Nongfushangquan became also very important. Then in 2001, the Master Kong’s tea became very popular.  And finally in 2002 the fruit juices made a big entry in the market.

But now, the consumer’s taste having changed, it is quite difficult for a new product to enter the market.

 The different beverages present now in the market

Water: Nongfu Spring was clearly the leader, followed by Master Kong and Wahaha first, then Uni-president, Robust and Nestle. These six brands almost shared the market, leaving not so much place to other brands.

In 2012, the volume of bottled drinking water represented 55.6278 million tons, which is an increase of 16.16% comparing with 2011.

Gas drinks: Even if these beverages’ growth is limited, it is still important: in 2009 the production of gas beverages represented 12.542 million tons.

But in 2012 these beverages take up the largest proportion of soft drinks: In 2012, the volume of gas beverages was 13.1129 million tons, decreasing by 18.38% from 2011. In fact even if it is for now the leading sector, the change in the Chinese consumption habits, like wanting more healthy beverages, may predict that their share will continue decline. But this will take a long time, knowing mainly young people attracted by brands drink these kinds of beverages, and are not ready to stop drinking them.

Fruit and vegetable juice: Because Chinese consumers try more and more to find healthy products, fruit beverages have known are rapid growth these recent years, and it is said that by 2015, the market will have reached 160 billion yuan. In 2012, the volume of fruit juices and vegetable juices was 22.2917 million tons, which is 16.09% more than in 2011.

About the other beverages, the volume of these drinks reached 39.2077 million tons in 2012, which is 13.76% more than in 2011. These are: 

Milk beverages: with the rise of the Chinese middle class, the milk products market has been significantly growing these recent years, even if these products are not new on the beverages market. The main brands in 2010 were Wahaha and Robust, selling especially children’s products.

Tea beverages : Even if in 2010 there existed almost ten thousand brands on this market, the leader as we said became then Master Kong, which had then 50% market share 


In 2012, the volume of China soft drinks is 130.2401 million tons, which is 10.73% more than in 2011. From 2000 to 2012, the volume of China soft drinks industry increased by 7 times!

Now, gas drinks, water, fruit and vegetable juices, and tea drinks are the four major categories of soft drinks in China.

But recently new categories appeared: sport drinks (with Mizone and Gatorade as main brands), energy drinks (with Red Bull and Lipovitan as main brands), and vegetable protein drinks (with Jiaduobao and Wong Lo Kat as main brands). They represent a huge potential for Chinese functional drinks.

As we said, the proportion gas drinks should decline, while healthy beverages ( tea drinks, protein beverages and fruit and vegetable juices)  should become the mainstream of the market quite soon.

Specialists say that the volume of China soft drinks should maintain a growth of over 8%, which should be higher than the growth of Chinese GDP !

What is obvious anyway in China, is that, the tap water being not drinkable, Chinese people are used to drink hot water (boiled) or bottled beverages, which means the soft drinks market in China will surely continue to grow !


Major Sales Modes of Imported Food Products in China

1. Franchise store

Franchise store mode developed at the early age of imported food products market. It seems that this mode has come to its end. According to the survey by Alibaba, many franchise companies in imported food products market focus more on developing new franchise stores which makes its more like pyramid selling. Only less than 20% of the franchise stores can survive.

2. Dealer mode

Dealer mode was once the most popular mode in import market, in not only food but also almost all the other import market.

Now there are tens of thousands imported food dealers in China. But most of them are quite small. The number of sizeable enterprises is less than 100. Large number of small and mini companies slows down the market maturity. However, those unqualified small companies are wiped off by the market gradually. On the other hand, those big companies will take the blank of those small companies left and grow faster in the following few years.

Cooperating with dealers can save food producers many problems and troubles in importation, marketing and sales.

On the other hand, food makers should also notice that dealer mode also has its own risk. In some cities, the same products can have several price which can confuse the customers and positioning of the brand.

3. Supermarket

As the major distribution channel, supermarkets don’t sell so many food products as expected. But now they are trying to contact with some foreign food producers directly to limit the cost.

And it works, a 281ml frappuccino imported cost 26 in Starbucks, 16.9 in Century supermarket or only 15 if there is discount. It’s a win-win situation, Century supermarket increases its sales and Starbucks increase its exports.

4. Online sales

In China, online imported food product sale is undergoing a fast development period.

As mentioned before, most consumers of imported food products are from white collar class, who are busy with their work and have higher demand for quality life than others. Online sale caters to their special demand for fashion, convenience and speed.

What’s more, online sales allow companies to reach the consumers from remote area. Companies can also integrate their positioning and branding strategy.

Online sale also has its shortages. Since customers cannot see the goods they want by themselves, they will worry about the originality and after service. So CIQ certificate is more important for online imported food sellers because customers trust it.


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