Thailand first to swallow Coca-Cola's Habu herbal tea

Thailand first to swallow Coca-Cola's Habu herbal tea

Coca-Cola (Thailand) is strengthening its local non-carbonated drink business with the debut of its first herbal drink.

From left: Diggy Dey, business development director at Coca-Cola (Thailand), and Charnvit Charindhorn, senior vicepresident for marketing at ThaiNamthip Co, join comedian Charoenporn ‘Kohtee’ Onlamai and actor Tanawat ‘Pope’ Wattanaputi, the two brand ambassadors for Habu herbal tea, during the product launch.

Habu herbal tea was officially launched on Wednesday in the 21-billion-baht ready-to-drink herbal beverage business.

Thailand is the first country to unveil this new drink, which has four main ingredients _ roselle, licorice, luo han guo and cogangrass.

Business development director Diggy Dey said 160 million baht will be spent to promote Habu herbal tea in its first year.

"The herbal tea market is attractive, as herbal, herbal-fused and tea-based drinks are among the top three popular drinks along with water and sparkling beverages in food shops and traditional and modern trade stores. Demand for herbal tea has grown by 25% in the past three years," he said.

Habu, which was years in the making, combines a modern taste with traditional herbal properties, said Mr Dey.

"Herbal drinks are not new in Thailand. Inspired by Thai herbal drinking culture, we are very optimistic about our Habu herbal drink and expect this new product will grow by 25-30% in its first year or ahead an industry growth," he said, adding that Habu herbal tea could be introduced to other countries in the future.

Charnvit Charindhorn, the senior vice-president for marketing at ThaiNamthip Co, the local bottler of Coke, Fanta and Spite, said the market value of ready-to-drink herbal beverages is worth 21 billion baht, with annual growth of 25% in the past three years.

"We hope our first herbal drink brand, Habu, will provide more choice for consumers as well as strengthen our non-carbonated beverage portfolio," he said.

Coca-Cola has a strong portfolio under the "still beverage" or non-carbonated drink category in Thailand _ Minute Maid Splash, Minute Maid Pulpy, Minute Maid Nutriboost and Namthip, which together now contribute 20% of company sales after being on an upward trend over the past three years.

Coca-Cola will spend 800 million baht to promote its non-carbonated drinks this year and at least the same amount next year.

The company expects 10-15% annual growth in non-carbonated drinks.

"Thailand is one of the fastest growing Asean markets for Coca-Cola. In the second quarter of this year, Thailand was mentioned as a good growth global market," said Mr Dey.

"We believe in long-term growth here and will invest heavier than in the past."

Coca-Cola's Thai unit commands a 20% share of the 168-billion-baht non-alcoholic ready-to-drink market.

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