Retail in Asia

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Vietnam’s coffee market grows to USD287m in 2012

The coffee market in Vietnam grew to an estimated USD287.34 million in 2012 from only USD127.33  million in 2008. Research firm Mintel forecasts this to grow even faster to reach USD573.75 million by 2016.

Mintel’s database also showed that Vietnam accounted for a tenth (10.1 percent) of all coffee launches in Asia-Pacific, ranking fourth behind the mature South Korean (15 percent) and Japanese (13 percent) markets, as well as India (11 percent).

Jonny Forsyth, Mintel’s Global Drinks Analyst, said that in most markets, consumption of fresh rather than instant coffee is the real test for how developed a coffee market is because of its more complex taste, higher cup cost and less convenient format.

However, he said Vietnam is a little different in this regard, as it has long held a coffee culture and a sophisticated palate for coffee flavours.

"Indeed fresh coffee is available on almost every street corner in the entire nation. The litmus test then for Vietnam becomes the continued conversion of these customers to more modern, contemporary, international coffees,” he commented.

Data from Mintel showed that Vietnam is the leading innovator in “authentic’’ coffee – i.e. ground or whole bean, accounting for around a quarter (23 percent) of all new products launched in this segment in Asia over the past two years. This figure is four times the New Product Development (NPD) from China (accounting for 6 percent) over the same period.

“As one of the world’s largest coffee producers, Vietnam’s demographic figures are highly attractive: it has a highly literate, young and well educated population of 89 million with a fast emerging middle class with a thirst for international brands. Indeed, the line-ups at the recent Starbucks opening in the nation attest to the latent demand the market carries for such introductions to the market,” Forsyth added.

In terms of coffee consumption in Asia, Japan leads with consumption of 2.90 kg per capita. South Korea follows with 2.42 kg, Thailand with 1.95 kg and Vietnam (1.15kg) and Malaysia (1.15kg) make up the remaining top five.

Mintel said the key to large international coffee brands maintaining Asian success long-term will be striking the right balance between being flexible enough to lose a little control, while retaining the essence of what makes them such a successful global proposition in the first place.