Convenience drinks are taking a greater foothold all over the world, with ready-to-drink tea on the rise in China. Younger audiences are interested in getting their drinks on the go, even via vending machines, and suppliers are strategizing for how to capitalize on this need.
India is a country that is motivated to step in, creating a valuable and consistent market for their Assam tea. The production of ready-to-drink concentrate requires vast quantities of tea. Trade barriers are creating challenges for them however and India exported 16.87% less tea to China last year than the previous year. However, Azam Monem, the India Tea Association’s Vice-Chariman told The Guardian that exports to China could rise from today’s 2.02 million kg to nearly 40 million kg.
What are the biggest barriers? Inspection and quarantine requirements have created big challenges for those looking to export to China. The Chinese authority has strict regulations related to metals, rare earth checks and polyphenol levels. The tea industry in India is proposing that the Chinese and Indian regulators develop a system of joint checks to expedite the process.
Others have tried, unsuccessfully, to break into China’s ready-to-drink market. In 2002, Nestle introduced its Nestea brand (which it produces in partnership with Coca Cola), seeing potential interest in their bottled product. In June 2013, the Swiss-based company finally pulled out of the market. In the late 1990s, Coca-Cola had tried two other unsuccessful bottled teas. Analysts believe that the companies were unable to position their product properly in a competitive market.