The Chinese Beverage Landscape: Market Overview | Tractus

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This article is part of a series exploring the beverage industry in China. For a comprehensive global market overview, refer to THE CHINESE BEVERAGE LANDSCAPE: NONALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE article.

The Chinese beverage market is a vast and dynamic industry that presents numerous opportunities for beverage manufacturers. With a population of over 1.4 billion people, China is the world’s largest consumer of bottled water, carbonated drinks, and dairy products. Moreover, the beverage manufacturing output in 2022 reached a whopping 18.1 million tons, indicating the industry’s stable foothold in the country. Furthermore, Chinese consumers are spoiled for choice due to the extensive beverage offerings in the country. Drinks in China in the categories falling under non alcoholic beverages include much more than packaged drinking water. Soft drinks, hot drinks, carbonated drinks, sports drinks, etc. make up a large percentage of the market size. Coffee consumption with milk alternatives should also be held in consideration when it comes to preferences of Chinese consumers.

Beverage Categories

The Chinese beverage market is composed of three primary categories: non-alcoholic beverages, alcoholic beverages, and hot drinks. Among these categories, packaged drinking water, carbonated beverages, dairy products, and sparkling water are the most popular beverages in China, with 62.7%, 55%, 54%, and 42% of Chinese consumers preferring these drinks, respectively.

Source: iiMedia, Euromonitor

Consumer Habits

In China, 63.3% of beverage consumers prefer to buy their drinks offline due to its immediacy. When it comes to discovering new brands, television advertisements (51.9%), short video platforms (48.0%), and offline advertisements (39.6%) are the most common channels.

Soft Drinks (Carbonated beverages) Sales

In 2020, the sales of soft drinks in China dropped by 1.5% due to the outbreak of Covid-19, which led to many stores closing and people being forced to quarantine at home. However, the sales volume of soft drinks has since recovered, reaching 86.7 billion liters in 2022, with a year-on-year rise of 5.2%, indicating significant demand for soft drinks in the Chinese market.

Source: Euromonitor, Qianzhan

Costs

In 2021, packaged drinking water cost an average of 2.41 yuan per liter, while energy drinks and ready-to-drink coffee cost an average of 20.60 yuan per liter and 19.78 yuan per liter, respectively. The average cost of an Asian specialty drink is close to 10 yuan per liter for cold or hot drinks.


As the Chinese beverage market continues to evolve and grow, it is crucial for beverage manufacturers and industrials to stay up to date with the latest trends, regulatory changes, and consumer behaviors in order to remain competitive. At Tractus, we have extensive experience and expertise in helping companies navigate the complex Chinese market. Our team can assist with market research, supply chain optimization, regulatory compliance, and more to ensure success in the Chinese beverage market.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business thrive in China.

Authored by

HERMINIO ANDRES is the General Manager of the Chinese office based in Shanghai; and Cathy Gu is a Senior Research Analyst based in the Shanghai office.


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