China's juice market is undergoing a noticeable resurgence. Financial reports reveal that, in 2022, beverage giants including Nongfu Spring, COFCO Coca-Cola, and Uni-President achieved double-digit growth in their juice businesses. As summer is coming again, not only the above-mentioned giants, but also the second-tier players including Huiyuan, C'est bon, Yuanqi Forest, and Wei Chuan, have all launched a range of new juice products.
Looking back at the development trajectory of China's juice market, the progress in past years was less than optimistic. According to the China Beverage Industry Association, the retail volume of juice in China decreased from 11.97 billion liters in 2015 to 11.7 billion liters in 2017.1 Euromonitor also revealed a contraction in the retail value of juice from 87.14 billion yuan in 2017 to 75.26 billion yuan in 2021.2 The decline of the juice market can be largely attributed to the impact of emerging tea beverage, consumers' preference for low-sugar and healthy lifestyles, and the lack of innovation within the juice market.
Surprisingly, the juice market in China experienced a significant turnaround in 2022, showing a transformative growth trajectory. The 2022 China Consumer Report by Bain and Kantar revealed that juice emerged as the fastest-growing segment within the FMCG industry, achieving an impressive growth rate of 22% during the first three quarters of 2022.
What factors contribute to the turnaround in China's juice market?
Product innovation on raw materials and mouthfeel
Exotic and lesser-known fruit is a novelty to the juice market. Fruits with distinct origins like coconut, sea buckthorn, and lychee, as well as fruits known for their unique benefits, like blueberries and plums, have become sought-after raw materials of juice. These new juice materials are reshaping the landscape of the juice market and contributing to the overall growth.
Apart from new raw materials, a refreshing and sparkling mouthfeel of juice brings more enjoyment, making it particularly appealing to younger consumers. Therefore, it has emerged as a significant avenue for juice innovation. For example, Yuanqi Forest launched its sparkling juice product named "Manfen", featuring 99% fruit content and a sparkling sensation. Traditional juice brand Minute Maid also launched its sparkling juice product.
Health attributes incorporated into juice products
Driven by consumers' pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, the beverage industry has responded by incorporating "healthy" as a key attribute. This is particularly evident in the post-pandemic era, where the demand for vitamin C beverages is increasing, leading to the popularity of products rich in vitamin C. One noteworthy example is the rise of calamansi juice which soon gained prevalence in the juice market, for bringing rich vitamin C apart from its delightful sweet and tangy taste. As a result, marketing slogans emphasizing "freshly squeezed juice," "no additives," and "high in vitamin C" are prevalent among calamansi juice brands, effectively addressing consumers' health-related needs. In today's health-conscious consumer environment, products with health attributes are well received by consumers.
Sam's Club's calamansi juice
Driven by the prevailing trend of low-sugar consumption, sugar reduction will be a crucial concern for the long-term development of the juice industry. Juice companies need to explore innovative sugar reduction solutions that satisfy the demand for lower sugar while preserving the taste. For instance, Better Juice, an Israeli enterprise, is pioneering a sugar reduction solution that converts fructose into beneficial prebiotics. This technology has the potential to reduce sugar content in orange juice by 30% to 80% while retaining its authentic flavor.3 By adopting such an innovative approach, juice companies can effectively cater to the growing consumer preference for healthier options and drive sustainable growth.
Better Juice's experimental factory
Furthermore, in response to consumers' growing demand for enhanced taste and freshness as well as additives-free options, high-concentration pure juice segment holds great promise. At present, not-from-concentrate (NFC) and high-pressure-processed (HPP) juices have already garnered considerable popularity as they can preserve the authentic fresh flavors and nutritional value without additives. They meet consumers' expectations for better taste as well as healthier choices. According to Jingcanmou, in 2022, Nongfu Spring's NFC juice was the most popular juice product on JD.com.4
Through unwavering innovation to fulfill consumers' demand for taste and health, the Chinese juice market is poised for a further revival. Euromonitor's projections indicate that the retail sales of juice in China will experience consistent growth, surpassing an impressive 79 billion RMB by 2027.2 This optimistic forecast underscores the positive outlook of China's juice market.