Soft drinks saw similar off-trade value growth in 2018 to that seen over the review period, despite off-trade volume sales slipping. Health concerns have led to consumers becoming more concerned about the sugar content of their beverages which has harmed volume sales, especially within carbonates.
Health and wellness remains the major trend influencing soft drinks in Hong Kong, with it having a major impact on purchasing decisions and new product development. In addition to reduced sugar and zero sugar options in carbonates there have also been other developments, such as vinegar-based concentrates, a focus on the water source in bottled water, cold-pressed juice to retain nutrients and the use of healthier varieties and blends within RTD tea, for example.
Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong Ltd remains the clear leader in soft drinks in Hong Kong thanks to its very large portfolio which covers most areas of soft drinks. Although its Coca-Cola brand has suffered as a result of increasingly negative perception of cola-based carbonates in the city, its Bonaqua and Authentic Tea House have picked up the slack seeing strong performances in bottled water and RTD tea, respectively.
New product development in soft drinks remained largely focused on introducing healthier variants in 2018, but there was also a push towards more premium offerings. For example, AS Watson Group introduced a roasted coconut product under its iF brand in coconut and other plant waters, while regional players from Japan and Korea added premium options such as charcoal roasted beans and drip brewed coffee to their ranges of RTD coffee.
Soft drinks is set to see an improvement in off-trade value and volume terms over the forecast period with the leading players adapting to the new environment with healthier options. Most categories are expected to see stronger growth, with even carbonates set to stabilise thanks to investment in reduced sugar/no sugar options and non-cola carbonates.
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