Retail in Asia


Looking at the kombucha drink market in Malaysia

With competition heating up in the nascent kombucha drink market in Malaysia, a flurry of new brands and product launches are happening and reaching the retail shelves. These new product launches are addressing the pain points that have been restraining the mass market adoption of the fermented beverage. Given the positive consumer perception of kombucha, the market is on the cusp of being dominated by a healthy functional and expectedly bestseller beverage, according to GlobalData, a data and analytics company.

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Kombucha drink is made by fermenting tea and sugar with a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY) and it is supposed to have digestive benefits. This appeals to 42 percent of Malaysian respondents, who find ingredients that claim to aid digestive health to be very appealing.

The market is also poised to benefit from the strong interest in probiotic drinks. This is corroborated by GlobalData’s 2021 consumer survey, wherein 59 percent of Malaysian respondents in the same survey showed a positive perception about probiotic drinks. Moreover, kombucha was exempted from the Malaysian government’s tax on sugar sweetened beverages in 2019.

“However, GlobalData’s Q1 2022 consumer survey reveals that just over one-third (35 percent) of Malaysians perceive kombucha to have a positive impact on their health. This positive perception of kombucha has also not translated into mass retail sales primarily as most kombucha products are priced at a premium,” said Bobby Verghese, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData.

“Moreover, the tart and fizzy flavor of authentic kombucha is an acquired taste for most Malaysians, who have grown accustomed to sugary soft drinks such as carbonates and nectars. However, the new product launches such as UNIIQ Kombucha and Betagen Kombucha are changing this perception through affordable pricing and pleasant flavors,” continued Verghese.

Source: GlobalData

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“Given the heightened public health consciousness, and the rising consumer interest in functional and healthy drinks since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the market prospects for kombucha are strong. As the new brands bring down the barriers of price and flavor, the demand for kombucha as a refreshment and cooking ingredient is expected to skyrocket as it has in Australia and several other Asian markets,” concluded Verghese.