China Food

Costa global launch! Our first plant-based ready to drink coffee series was launched in China. We talked with the person in charge

Backed by Coca Cola, Costa (Chinese Name: Costa) wants to seize more segments in China’s instant coffee market.

Snack generation has noticed that Costa has recently launched two new instant drinks, oatmeal latte and oatmeal Mocha, which are available online and offline in all channels. Han Liang, head of Costa’s ready to drink business in China, said that the new product “planting Cafe series” came from China’s localized innovation and was also the brand’s first plant-based ready to drink coffee series in the world.

Han Liang, head of Costa China ready to drink business

He also revealed to the snack generation that Costa instant coffee has made great achievements even though it has only entered the Chinese market for more than two years, and it will try to cross over to other categories in the future.

Oatmeal based craze

Driven by many oat milk brands and cafes, oats have become the mainstream taste with the characteristics of health, low burden and high compatibility with coffee. For example, the insight into Chinese coffee consumption released by meituan last month shows that oatmeal latte ranks among the top 10 takeaway coffee sales in 2021 and 2022.

“A considerable number of consumers have tasted oat milk coffee in coffee shops and have a certain familiarity and acceptance of taste and concept.” Han Liang said that Costa instant oatmeal coffee provides a more convenient, quick and ready-to-use choice than products that need to be prepared or prepared by oneself. It mainly targets busy white-collar workers aged 25-35 in first tier and second tier cities who pursue a healthy and sustainable lifestyle to meet the needs of the office.

Although the acceptance of oat coffee has been greatly improved, there are few related ready to drink products on the market at present. This involves many technical hurdles.

“Oat coffee is indeed a concept that has become popular in coffee shops in the past two years. From the point of view of the ready to drink coffee industry, the development of oat coffee needs a new cycle to overcome technical barriers, mainly by adjusting the oat base to match the taste and flavor of coffee properly, so as to get closer to the experience of manufactured products in stores.” Han Liang told snack generation, “for example, in the selection of vegetable oil, we have spent a lot of energy looking for special items that can stimulate rich oatmeal taste.”.

In addition to taste restoration, how to maintain the quality of packaged drinks with longer shelf life in transportation, storage and other links is also crucial.

Based on the above considerations, Costa’s new products use enzymatically hydrolyzed oat flour made from Australian oats. Each bottle contains about 4.5g of soluble dietary fiber, focusing on low sugar, zero cholesterol and other selling points.

“At this stage, oat flour can ensure more stable flavor and supply. As far as formula design is concerned, oat flour can minimize precipitation and present a stable appearance in front of consumers.” Han Liang said.

In addition, in order to fully present the aroma of coffee, the series of new products use coffee extract and coffee powder made of the same type of slow roasted coffee beans in Costa stores.

It is reported that the same type of coffee beans in this store are the Mocha Italian Blend Coffee Beans unique to Costa. It is a mixture of arabica and Robusta coffee beans from different production areas in the world. Through slow roasting, the aroma and oil of coffee beans are well preserved.

At present, Costa oatmeal latte and oatmeal Mocha are both available

In addition, in terms of channels, Coca Cola’s powerful bottling system enables Costa to expand rapidly. At present, COFCO and Swire have “divided the world” in the Coca Cola China bottling version, and have established an extensive sales network.

Future play

Previously, according to Costa China’s five-year plan (2021-2025), its goal of packaged instant coffee was to significantly increase market penetration and market share. Then how does Costa break through the fierce “scramble” and achieve this goal?

Looking forward to the future, Han Liang said that Costa China instant coffee will still take meeting the needs of consumers as its core concept, and the growth momentum will mainly come from three aspects, including channel expansion and distribution sinking, product innovation and the increase in demand for high-quality instant coffee.

In terms of channels, Han Liang said that Costa ready to drink has fully covered the first and second tier cities, and is pushing to sink into more markets. In the post epidemic era, Costa ready to drink will also actively explore e-commerce, new retail and o2o, improve the penetration rate of drinking at home and reduce the impact of outdoor channels.

In terms of product innovation, Costa will continue to launch ready to drink series that meet different drinking scenarios and needs based on the local market.

“We will always develop and iterate formulas according to the taste preferences of Chinese consumers, and adhere to the brand gene of store quality.” Han Liang said that as a comprehensive coffee company, Costa’s major advantage is that it can use its store experience to develop ready to drink. It not only uses the same type of coffee beans in stores as raw materials, but also allows store baristas to participate in the development, and introduces store freshly ground coffee as a reference in consumer testing.

“We hope to use convenient ready to drink products to enter more scenes outside cafes, so that consumers can drink a cup of coffee as if it were made in stores more easily and quickly.” Han Liang said that all the company’s ready to drink products are inspired by stores and strive to make the taste “as close to the level of stores as possible”, so as to attract consumers to buy again.

In addition, Costa also wants to seize the high-end dividend of instant coffee. According to the 2021 China ready to drink coffee report obtained by snack generation from Mintel, the sales of China’s ready to drink coffee market is expected to maintain double-digit growth in the next five years, reaching 16.1 billion yuan in 2026. The growth is due to the increase in demand for high-end, healthy and refreshing products.

“The increasing demand of Chinese coffee consumers for high-quality coffee, as well as the increasing demand and consumption frequency of portable ready to drink products, will benefit the whole ready to drink coffee industry.” Han Liang said.

It is worth noting that Costa does not rule out the layout of more drinks besides coffee. This year, the brand launched the “light milk tea” series of ready to drink milk tea for the first time.

Han Liang told snack generation that the concept of light milk tea originated from Costa Cha, a new tea beverage brand launched by Costa in its stores last year. At present, the sales performance of light milk tea and consumer feedback have exceeded expectations, bringing confidence to Costa ready to drink to expand new categories.

“But coffee will still be the core product line, and we will not blindly expand products other than coffee

Costa global launch! Our first plant-based ready to drink coffee series was launched in China. We talked with the person in charge



“我们希望用便捷的即饮产品,打入咖啡馆以外的更多场景,让消费者更容易、更快就能喝到一杯仿佛门店现做的咖啡。” 韩亮说,该公司所有即饮产品灵感均源于门店,并争取令口感能“最大程度地接近门店水平”,从而吸引消费者复购。




韩亮对小食代表示,轻乳茶的概念源自COSTA去年在门店推出的新式茶饮子品牌“COSTA CHA”。目前,轻乳茶销售表现及消费者反馈均超出预期,为COSTA即饮拓展新品类带来了信心。

但咖啡依然会是核心产品线,我们不会盲目拓展咖啡以外的品类,还是要遵守根植于门店品牌和以消费者为中心的策略,选择适合COSTA品牌延伸的品类来进行更多跨界尝试。” 韩亮说。


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