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China Lactobacillus Beverages Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Lactobacillus Beverages market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report covers dairy-based drinks which are fermented using lactic acid bacteria, with less than 2.3g protein content per 100ml. These drinks usually contain sugar or sweeteners, acids, juice, and plant extracts.

The following are excluded from market sizing but discussed in the context of competition and consumer trends where relevant:

  • Acidic milk drinks, exemplified by Nutri-Express (营养快线), and suan suan ru (酸酸乳);
  • Lactobacillus water which is fermented using lactic acid bacteria

The report will look at consumers’ consumption frequency, purchase channels, brands they purchase, consumption purpose, as well as their habits and attitudes towards lactobacillus beverages.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Crystal A, a leading analyst in the Food & Drink sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Current innovation in lactobacillus drinks focuses on functional benefits and added nutrients. But in the long term, as consumers become more knowledgeable, they will realise the limitations of lactobacillus drinks in terms of functionality. Crystal A
Food & Drink Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this report
        • Definitions
        • Executive Summary

            • The market
              • A stabilised market outlook
                • Figure 1: Best- and worst- case forecast for lactobacillus drinks, by value, China, 2013-23
              • Ambient segment enjoys higher growth while chilled holds potential for a promising future
                • Figure 2: Retail market value of ambient and chilled lactobacillus drinks, China, 2014-18
              • Companies and brands
                • Leading brands’ positions have further consolidated
                  • Figure 3: Leading companies’ share of lactobacillus drinks market, China, 2017 vs 2018
                • Local/niche brands are focusing on specific fractions
                  • Innovation trend: make this category more fun
                    • The consumer
                      • High penetration rate for all types of lactobacillus beverages
                        • Figure 4: Consumption frequency of different types of beverages, December 2018
                      • Supermarkets dominate retail channels; potential for on-trade channels
                        • Figure 5: Purchase channels, December 2018
                      • Most people see lactobacillus drinks as functional, but casual purposes cannot be neglected
                        • Figure 6: Consumption purpose, December 2018
                      • Perceptions towards chilled and ambient lactobacillus reveal confusion
                        • Figure 7: Attitudes towards ambient and chilled lactobacillus beverages, by consumption frequency of chilled lactobacillus drinks, December 2018
                      • Seeking variety in ingredients but refreshing texture
                        • Figure 8: An ideal lactobacillus beverage – added ingredients, December 2018
                      • What we think
                      • Issues and Insights

                        • Leverage potential of catering channel and develop “meal pairing” image
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • Figure 9: Haidilao’s chilled lactobacillus drinks highlight “hotpot pairing”, China, 2018
                            • Position lactobacillus drinks as “the healthiest casual drink”
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • Figure 10: Homemade lactobacillus drinks posted on Xiaohongshu app, China
                                  • Figure 11: Heytea offers customers the option of replacing sugar with stevia, China, 2018
                                • Lure high earners to become heavy users of chilled lactobacillus drinks
                                  • The facts
                                    • The implications
                                      • Figure 12: Mengniu’s Deluxe-flavoured yogurt emphasises strain, technology and milk source, China, 2018
                                      • Figure 13: Mengniu’s WeChat mini program for milk subscription, China, 2018
                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                    • The market for lactobacillus drinks has stabilised
                                      • Foodservice brands could challenge but also inspire packaged lactobacillus beverages
                                        • The chilled segment has potential to thrive but need to wait a long time
                                        • Market Size and Forecast

                                          • Stabilised market outlook after surge and slowdown
                                            • Figure 14: Retail value growth rate of lactobacillus drinks, China, 2014-18
                                          • The total market value of lactobacillus drinks is estimated to reach RMB 29.8 billion in 2023
                                            • Figure 15: Best- and worst- case forecast for lactobacillus drinks, by value, China, 2013-23
                                        • Market Factors

                                          • Knowledge towards lactobacillus especially the digestive benefit come to be known
                                            • Development of cold-chain holds promise for chilled beverages
                                              • Foodservice brands can inspire lactobacillus beverage manufacturers
                                                • Figure 16: Product examples of innovative drinks from foodservice brands
                                              • Concerns about sugar intake curtail the market
                                              • Market Segmentation

                                                • Ambient segment has exceeded chilled one in value since 2016
                                                  • Figure 17: Retail market value of ambient and chilled lactobacillus drinks, China, 2014-18
                                                  • Figure 18: Best- and worst- case forecast for ambient lactobacillus drinks, by value, China, 2013-23
                                                • Chilled segment may need a long time to build momentum
                                                  • Figure 19: Best- and worst- case forecast for chilled lactobacillus drinks, by value, China, 2013-23
                                              • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                • Boost market share by virtue of multi-product strategy
                                                  • Target niche segments though specific benefits communication
                                                    • Innovation trend: opportunity for blending
                                                    • Market Share

                                                      • Yili gains share thanks to multi-product strategy
                                                        • Figure 20: Leading companies’ share of lactobacillus drinks market, China, 2017 vs 2018
                                                      • Players in the ambient segment seem stable
                                                        • Chilled segment highly concentrated
                                                        • Competitive Strategies

                                                          • Leading brands
                                                            • Actively developing total wellbeing (大健康) offerings
                                                              • Strengthening presence in new channels and markets
                                                                • Figure 21: Mengniu’s products sold via WeChat business channel, China, 2018
                                                              • Moving beyond digestive health claim
                                                                • Figure 22: Yakult’s Beauty Plus+ drinking yogurt highlights skin care benefits, South Korea, 2018
                                                              • Local/niche brands
                                                                • Chilled lactobacillus drinks manufacturers highlight live bacteria and cold-chain management
                                                                  • Figure 23: Weichuan highlights its whole process cold-chain management, China, 2018
                                                                • Target specific segments though specific benefits communication
                                                                  • Figure 24: Junlebao’s “cute series” highlights cuteness and freshness, China, 2018
                                                              • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                • The big picture overview
                                                                  • Though plain still dominates, fruits flavours have sprung up
                                                                    • Figure 25: Top 10 flavours of new launches of lactobacillus drinks, China, 2014-18
                                                                  • From “minus” to “added nutrients”
                                                                    • Figure 26: Noteworthy claims of new launches of lactobacillus drinks, China, 2014-18
                                                                  • Ambient segment double the chilled segment, opposite to the global trend
                                                                    • Figure 27: New launches of lactobacillus drinks, by storage, China vs global, 2014-18
                                                                  • Tap the better-for-you trend
                                                                    • Upgrade existing products and highlight sugar reduction and added nutrients
                                                                      • Figure 28: Yili’s new versions of Meiyitian highlight strain, flavour and packaging
                                                                      • Figure 29: Junlebao’s new version of Junchang highlights added enzymes
                                                                    • Drawn on plant-based lactobacillus drinks
                                                                      • Figure 30: Product examples of plant-based lactobacillus drinks, Japan, Russia and Canada
                                                                    • Inspiration from foodservice brands
                                                                      • Figure 31: Naxuecha’s marketing campaign highlights “lower burden”, China, 2019
                                                                    • Cross-category innovation brings surprises for consumers
                                                                      • Figure 32: Product examples of cross-category probiotic drinks from Odwalla and Kevita, US
                                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                    • Chilled lactobacillus drinks have more heavy users
                                                                      • On-trade channels hold potential for lactobacillus beverages
                                                                        • The functional benefits of lactobacillus beverages are well recognised
                                                                          • Seeking variety in ingredients but refreshing texture
                                                                          • Consumption Frequency

                                                                            • Chilled lactobacillus drinks have more heavy users
                                                                              • Figure 33: Consumption frequency of different types of beverages, December 2018
                                                                            • Ambient lactobacillus drinks appeal to the 30-39 age group
                                                                              • Figure 34: Consumption frequency of ambient lactobacillus drinks – selected frequency, by age, December 2018
                                                                          • Purchase Channels

                                                                            • No big differences between different city tiers, nor between chilled and ambient products
                                                                              • Figure 35: Purchase channels, December 2018
                                                                            • Potential for on-trade channels
                                                                              • Figure 36: Purchase channels – bakeries, by gender and age, December 2018
                                                                          • Brand Penetration

                                                                            • Brand interaction
                                                                              • Leaders are getting stronger
                                                                                • Figure 37: Brand penetration – selected brands, by brand users, December 2018
                                                                              • Consumers do not stick to one brand even for similar products
                                                                                • Females are more into brands of chilled products
                                                                                  • Region and income level matter in brand penetration
                                                                                    • Figure 38: Brand penetration – selected brands, by region, December 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 39: Brand penetration – selected brands, by monthly personal income, December 2018
                                                                                • Attitudes and Habits

                                                                                  • Flavour innovation is a key driver
                                                                                    • Figure 40: Attitudes and habits – attitudes towards flavour, December 2018
                                                                                  • Perception does not affect consumption behaviour much, except for heavy users
                                                                                    • Figure 41: Attitudes towards ambient and chilled lactobacillus beverages, by consumption frequency of chilled lactobacillus drinks, December 2018
                                                                                  • An evolving lifestyle for lactobacillus beverages
                                                                                    • Figure 42: Attitudes and habits – purchase habits, December 2018
                                                                                • Consumption Purpose

                                                                                  • More of a functional drink
                                                                                    • Figure 43: Consumption purpose, December 2018
                                                                                  • Females are more driven by casual purposes
                                                                                    • Figure 44: Consumption purpose, December 2018
                                                                                • An Ideal Lactobacillus Beverage

                                                                                  • Seeking variety in ingredients but refreshing texture
                                                                                    • Figure 45: An ideal lactobacillus beverage – added ingredients, December 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 46: An ideal lactobacillus beverage – added nutrients, December 2018
                                                                                    • Figure 47: An ideal lactobacillus beverage – texture, by age, December 2018
                                                                                  • Tradition holds strong but young generation are redefining it
                                                                                    • Figure 48: An ideal lactobacillus beverage – temperature, by gender and age, December 2018
                                                                                  • Plastic bottle is the most popular package format
                                                                                    • Figure 49: An ideal lactobacillus beverage – package, December 2018
                                                                                • Meet the Mintropolitans

                                                                                  • Drink more chilled lactobacillus drinks than others
                                                                                    • Figure 50: Consumption frequency of chilled lactobacillus drinks, by consumer classification, December 2018
                                                                                  • More into functional benefits
                                                                                    • Figure 51: Consumption purpose – functional related, by consumer classification, December 2018
                                                                                  • Purchase from more different brands
                                                                                    • Figure 52: Brand penetration – selected brands, by consumer classification, December 2018
                                                                                • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                    • Figure 53: Total market value of lactobacillus drink, China, 2013-23
                                                                                    • Figure 54: Total market volume of lactobacillus drink, China, 2013-23
                                                                                • Appendix – Market Segmentation

                                                                                    • Figure 55: Total market value of ambient lactobacillus drink, China, 2013-23
                                                                                    • Figure 56: Total market volume of ambient lactobacillus drink, China, 2013-23
                                                                                    • Figure 57: Total market value of chilled lactobacillus drink, China, 2013-23
                                                                                    • Figure 58: Total market volume of chilled lactobacillus drink, China, 2013-23
                                                                                • Appendix – Methodology and Abbreviations

                                                                                  • Methodology
                                                                                    • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                      • Abbreviations