Healthy drink sales soar as shoppers shun sugar

Healthy drink sales soar as shoppers shun sugar

Mrs Jesdakorn, left, and actress Thanaerng present Oishi green tea honey lemon 0% sugar in response to customer demand for less sweet drinks.
Mrs Jesdakorn, left, and actress Thanaerng present Oishi green tea honey lemon 0% sugar in response to customer demand for less sweet drinks.

Oishi Group Plc, the manufacturer and marketer of Oishi ready-to-drink green tea, has expanded its range of sugar-free products, focusing for the first time on the mass market after the pandemic prompted consumers to be more concerned about their health.

Jesdakorn Ghosh, senior vice-president for marketing at Oishi Group, said the pandemic reset the beverage market and boosted the popularity of the sugar-free and low-sugar ready-to-drink tea category because people are paying attention to their health.

According to research company Nielsen, the ready-to-drink beverage market in Thailand contracted between April 2021 to March 2022 by 2.6% year-on-year, led by mixer products, whisky, energy drinks, functional drinks, liquid milk, and fruit juices, which contracted by 10.3%, 9.9%, 7.9%, 7.8%, 6.7% and 4.8%, respectively.

The study also found low-sugar and sugar-free ready-to-drink tea, drinking water, spirits and beer were the four beverage categories with sales growth, expanding by 11.8%, 2.1%, 1.6% and 0.9%, respectively.

"The huge growth of low-sugar and sugar-free ready-to-drink tea during the pandemic was not only because Thai consumers are aware of green tea's health benefits, but also because players in various beverage categories, including tea, soft drinks and functional drinks, have actively and aggressively promoted low-sugar and sugar-free products," Mrs Jesdakorn said.

She said in recent years only medium to high-spending customers had an interest in sugar-free products. The buying habits of the mass market have changed, as they prefer to buy low-sugar and sugar-free beverages rather than considering product taste a priority, said Mrs Jesdakorn.

"Using digital technology and social media, the mass market is smarter and has become more sophisticated, shopping based on information," she said.

Given the lower sugar trend, Oishi recently launched honey lemon tea, a 0% sugar ready-to-drink product. It hired Kanyawee "Thanaerng" Songmuang, a famous actress from the TV series Hormones, to promote its new drink.

According to Nielsen, Thailand's ready-to-drink tea market was valued at 11.8 billion baht between April 2021 to March 2022, up by 12% year-on-year. Oishi controlled a market share of 45%, up from 44% the previous period.

Sales of Oishi green tea from Oct 1, 2021 to April 30, 2022 totalled 3.44 billion baht, a year-on-year increase of 18.9%.

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