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Chicory, Mate, and Beyond: Opportunities in Traditional Plant-based Hot Drinks

November 2016

Beverages made from such plants as yerba mate, chicory and soy have long histories and play an important cultural role in many places, particularly in the developing world. This report looks at where these drinks are popular, analyses the most important of variants of these beverages, and considers the outlook for the category in the years ahead.

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Category is concentrated in only a few geographic areas

In many places in the world, other plant-based hot drinks are not consumed in any significant quantities, but where they are consumed they tend to play important roles. Most global sales occur in just a handful of markets. China is by far the most important, with over half of global category sales by itself, but Argentina, Russia and South Africa also play major roles.

Consumption is heavier among older populations, but younger ones drive growth

Because of their traditional nature, many of these beverages are much more popular among older consumers. Among younger people the category is under more pressure from coffee and tea. However, the category is growing most quickly in places where it is maintaining its appeal to younger consumers.

Market structure is highly fragmented and regionalised

With the notable exception of Nestlé, nearly every big player in the category is focused nearly exclusively on a single market. It is rare for most companies in this category to look any further afield than neighbouring and culturally similar countries.

Different subcategories face very different futures

While some plant-based products such as yerba mate are now nearly entirely dependent on population increases to grow the market, others are successfully expanding to new populations and new markets. Chicory, for example, is expanding in Africa, while fading away in its home market of France.

Health and wellness aspect needed to grow category

In order to broaden its appeal to younger people and consumers in developed markets, the category will need to promote the naturally healthy properties of most plant-based hot drinks. The most successful approaches keep the traditional aspect prominent, but add a modern twist such as nutrient fortification or packaging for on-the-go consumption.


Euromonitor International definitions
Key findings

Category Overview

Other plant-based hot drinks grow at slow but steady pace
Consumption takes place in limited number of countries
Growth will be slow compared to other kinds of hot drinks
Southeast Asia growing fastest, but China is driving category
Several major groupings of other plant-based markets exist
Nearly all growth will come from just four markets
China is the unquestioned category leader
Increases in population and GDP drive category forward globally
Soft drivers are an asset in Eastern Europe but a burden in China
Health and wellness makes up large part of overall category
Foodservice plays only tiny role in category
Is there hope for the category in developed markets?

Competitive Landscape

Plant-based hot drinks is a highly fragmented category
Globe is divided between Nestl é and local companies
Most large brands focus on one key market
Las Mar ías is an example of a large but locally-focused company

Category Breakdown

Trends in product development
Size of the market in China dwarves that of other countries
Plant-based hot drinks in China faces pressure from RTD products
Fortified cereal drinks power rapid growth in Southeast Asia
Mate is consumed primarily in South America
Global number two Argentina is a highly mature market
The mate market is Brazil is shrinking
Is the future of mate outside hot hrinks ?
Latin American cereal drinks act very differently to mate
Corn-based drinks still growing in Mexico and Central America
Chicory makes up main portion of category in Eastern Europe
Chicory looks towards the future in Africa
Sahlep faces an uncertain future in the Middle East
“Other” hot drinks no more?


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