China Plant Protein Drinks Market Report 2023
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“Nutritional profile can help retain consumers’ spending on plant-protein drinks under cautious spending. However, as homogenous nutrition fortification emerges, different bases have to establish unique nutritional advantage to remain competitive.

China Plant Protein Drinks Market Report 2023

£ 3,695 (Excl.Tax)

Report Summary

Mintel examines the Plant Protein Drinks Market in China in this in-depth market report. Featuring expert analysis of market dynamics, and the latest consumer and industry trends. This report provides the Market Intelligence you need to stay ahead of your competition.

Key Issues Covered in this Report

  • Market forecast and segment performance within the plant-protein drink market.
  • Latest new product trends and marketing activities.
  • Noteworthy premiumisation opportunity.
  • Opportunity for flavour innovation.
  • Gap between consumers’ expectations and current offerings.

China Plant Plant-based Drinks Market

The penetration rate of oat-based drinks in the protein drink market has increased by 5 percentage points compared to 2021, exceeding the penetration rate of two conventional plant-protein drinks: walnut (73%) and apricot kernel protein drinks (69%). The result shows strong potential and rapid growth of oat-based drinks.

  • Plant protein drinks market size: Mintel estimates the retail value of the plant-based drink category to reach RMB53.9 billion in 2022.

Focusing on nutrient and ingredient upgrades in the basic product, flavour innovation and indulgence of premium products can help soya-based drinks escape the stereotype of being a cheap breakfast drink label. Oat milk drinks are growing fast, and there are still opportunities to deliver indulgence.

In terms of plant protein drinks market opportunities, nut drinks can be positioned as brain nutrient supplements, while almond-based drinks could be the next-to-watch pairing drink.

Expert Analysis from an Industry Specialist

This report, written by Rika Huang, a leading analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the China plant-protein drinks market and add expert context to the numbers.

Nutritional profile can help retain consumers’ spending on plant-protein drinks under cautious spending. However, as homogenous nutrition fortification emerges, different bases have to establish unique nutritional advantage to remain competitive. Other than nutrition, flavour innovation and differentiating texture for pairing drinks can help the category better tap into consumers’ segmented demand.

Rika Huang
Research Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Covered in this Report
        • Executive Summary

            • Issues and Insights
              • Focus on different upgrade needs of soya-based drinks
                  • Figure 1: Plant-protein drinks with indulgent flavours, Japan, 2020
                • Nut bases can be positioned as good sources of brain-benefit nutrients
                    • Figure 2: Examples of walnut milk highlighting brain benefit, Taiwan, China & India, 2022
                  • Next-to-watch base and texture as pairing drinks
                      • Figure 3: Communication of Oatly Tea Master Oat Milk, China, 2022
                    • The market
                      • Recovery slow down due to COVID-19
                        • Resumed confidence and offline traffic contribute to the recovery
                          • Nutrition fortification is key to retaining consumer spending
                            • What we think
                            • Market Size and Forecast

                              • Stalling value growth due to COVID-19
                                • Figure 4: Retail value sales and forecast of plant-protein drinks, China, 2017-27
                              • Volume flattens under increasing prices
                                • Figure 5: Retail volume sales and forecast of plant-protein drinks, China, 2017-27
                            • Market Segmentation

                              • Growth of soy milk resumes
                                • Figure 6: Plant-protein drinks segments, by retail value, China, 2020-22
                                • Figure 7: Plant-protein drinks segments, by retail value share, China, 2020-22
                              • Traditional behemoths continue to dominate innovation and growth of nut-based drinks
                                • Oat-based drinks contribute to the growth of ‘Other drinks’
                                • Market Factors

                                  • Declining financial status reaches a turning point
                                    • Figure 8: Changes in financial situation, 2022-23
                                    • Figure 9: Confidence in future financial situation, 2022-23
                                  • Spending on non-alcoholic drinks remains cautious
                                    • Figure 10: Trading up and down plans – Non-alcoholic drinks, 2021-23
                                  • Nutrition supplementation profile helps maintain consumer spending
                                    • Figure 11: Spending priorities, China, 2023
                                    • Figure 12: Spending priorities – Plant-based dairy products (eg soya milk/soymilk, coconut yoghurt), by Asian markets, 2023
                                  • Eating out spending begins to rebound
                                    • Figure 13: Spending more – Eating out and in-home food, 2021-23
                                • Market Share

                                  • The reliance on family unions makes Yangyuan susceptible to offline traffic fluctuations
                                    • Figure 14: Leading plant-protein drink companies, by retail value share, China, 2019-21
                                  • Lolo’s product innovation is on the rise, but risks cannot be ignored
                                    • Rising raw material cost hit Vitasoy and Dou Ben Dou
                                    • Marketing Activities

                                      • Almond-based drinks gain popularity as coffee pairing
                                        • Figure 15: Example of almond latte, China, 2022-23
                                      • Innovative blurring with alcoholic drinks
                                        • Figure 16: Qoka × Oatly on-premise alcoholic drink, China, 2023
                                        • Figure 17: Yeplant Oat Milk Cocktail gift box, China, 2023
                                        • Figure 18: Example of oat nog, USA & Canada, 2021-22
                                      • Balance functional benefits and taste via traditional dessert recipe
                                        • Figure 19: Example of almond and apricot kernel desserts, China, 2022-23
                                    • New Product Trends

                                      • Oat-based drinks challenge the traditional dominance of soya-based drinks
                                        • Figure 20: New dairy alternative launches, by share of base, China, 2017-22
                                      • Better-for-you and -earth benefits are highlighted
                                        • Figure 21: New dairy alternative launches, by share of claim categories, China, 2017-22
                                        • Figure 22: New dairy alternative launches, by share of plus claims, China, 2017-22
                                        • Figure 23: Example of plant-protein drinks with high/added fibre, China, 2022
                                      • Plain products continue to dominate, while Chinese tonic ingredients are on the rise
                                        • Figure 24: New dairy alternative launches, by share of top flavours, China, 2017-22
                                        • Figure 25: Example of dairy alternative launches highlighting Chinese tonic ingredients, China, 2022
                                      • Growing communication on texture, in addition to smooth
                                        • Figure 26: New dairy alternative launches, by share of selected texture, China, 2017-22
                                        • Figure 27: Example of plant-protein drinks with dense texture, China, 2022
                                        • Figure 28: Example of plant-protein drinks with refreshing taste, global, 2022
                                    • Consumption Frequency

                                      • Coconut-based and soya-based drinks retain their position of being most consumed
                                        • Figure 29: Consumption frequency, 2022
                                      • Oat-based drinks see greatest consumption increase
                                        • Figure 30: Consumption frequency, 2021 vs 2023
                                        • Figure 31: Share of frequent users, 2021 vs 2023
                                      • Regional preference hinders apricot kernel protein drinks harvesting more frequent users
                                        • Figure 32: Frequent users of apricot kernel protein drinks, by region, 2021 vs 2023
                                    • Consumption Purpose

                                      • Nutritional supplements have become the major consumption purpose
                                        • Figure 33: Consumption purpose, 2023
                                      • Good taste can further increase consumer reach
                                        • Figure 34: TURF analysis – Consumption purpose, 2023
                                        • Figure 35: Consumption purpose – Good taste, by gender and age, 2023
                                      • Almond drinks excel in pairing with drinks
                                        • Figure 36: Consumption purpose – Drink pairing, by frequent users of plant-protein drinks, 2023
                                    • Consumption Occasion

                                      • Soy: breakfast occasion dominates but lacks premiumisation space
                                        • Figure 37: Consumption occasions, 2023
                                        • Figure 38: Price preference – Soya-based drinks, by consumption occasions of soya-based drinks, 2023
                                      • Coconut and nut: Leisure activities are the main consumption occasion
                                        • Figure 39: Consumption purpose, by consumption occasion of coconut-based drinks and nut-based drinks -having leisure activity, 2023
                                      • Nut bases are compatible with working and studying scenarios
                                        • Oat: the endeavours to enter the breakfast market have yielded positive outcomes…
                                          • Figure 40: Oatly × Hema Oat Latte Porridge, China, 2023
                                        • Oat: …while opportunity exists in exploring more opportunities in dessert
                                          • Figure 41: Blurring preference, by consumers drink oat-based drinks as/pairing with dessert after meals, 2023
                                          • Figure 42: Examples of oat-based cream topping and ice-cream, China, 2021-23
                                          • Figure 43: Examples of oat-based dessert, global, 2020-21
                                      • Blurring Preference

                                        • Blurring preference is driven by both taste and health concern
                                          • Figure 44: Blurring preference, 2023
                                          • Figure 45: Share of flavour group in dairy alternative launches, China, 2017-22
                                        • Nutritious indulgence wins more affection
                                          • Figure 46: Blurring preference, by selected consumption purpose, 2023
                                        • Berry is popular thanks to its versatility
                                          • Figure 47: Blurring preference, by consumption purpose, 2023
                                        • Almonds and apricots’ compatible ingredients also have the potential to elevate their price
                                          • Figure 48: Blurring preference, by segments penetration, 2023
                                          • Figure 49: Blurring preference, by price preference of plant-protein drinks, 2023
                                      • Price Preference

                                        • Soya-based and rice/brown rice drinks perceived as more budget-friendly options
                                          • Figure 50: Price preference, 2023
                                        • Coconut-based and almond-based drinks have the potential to charge a premium price
                                          • Figure 51: Frequent users – Coconut-based and almond-based drinks, by price range of coconut-based and almond-based drinks, 2023
                                        • Focus on different upgrade needs of soya-based drinks
                                          • Figure 52: Premiumisation features, by price preference of soya-based drinks, 2023
                                          • Figure 53: Consumption purpose, price preference-soya-based drinks, 2023
                                      • Premiumisation Features

                                        • Fibre can help boost value of plant-protein drinks
                                          • Figure 54: Premiumisation features, 2023
                                        • Despite the popularity of full-bodied taste, related communication is insufficient
                                          • Figure 55: TURF Analysis – Premiumisation features, 2023
                                        • Refreshing texture is more compatible with tea drinks
                                          • Figure 56: Premiumisation features – Full-bodied taste and refreshing texture, by consumption purpose, 2023
                                        • Low-sugar optimisation is promising, and the tolerance to fat can be an opportunity for nut bases
                                        • Food Personas

                                          • Who are they?
                                              • Figure 57: Food personas, 2022
                                              • Figure 58: Food personas, by gender, 2022
                                              • Figure 59: Food personas, by region, 2023
                                            • Chinese tonic ingredients are the favourite blurring options for new trend explorers
                                              • Figure 60: Blurring preference, by food persona, 2023
                                            • Opportunity to differentiate through calcium fortification
                                              • Figure 61: Premiumisation features, by food persona, 2023
                                          • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                              • Figure 62: Retail value sales and forecast of plant-protein drinks, China, 2017-27
                                              • Figure 63: Retail volume sales and forecast of plant-protein drinks, China, 2017-27
                                          • Appendix – Market Segmentation

                                              • Figure 64: Plant-protein drink segments, by retail value, China, 2017-22
                                          • Appendix – Methodology and Abbreviations

                                            • Methodology
                                              • Abbreviations

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