Instant coffee products add extra kick

Functional instant coffee is finding favour in select world markets such as Poland and Japan, according to new research from Euromonitor International on health and wellness beverages, which notes potential for much greater expansion, particularly in Eastern European and Asian markets.

Instant coffee has always been popular in Eastern Europe, "given it's what consumers grew up with back in the Iron Curtain days." Euromonitor observed: "In 2005, over 67 per cent of the region's coffee value sales came from instant coffee, compared to 29 per cent in Western Europe and a meagre 13 per cent in North America. The older generation, in particular, love instant coffee and in the early 1990s, Polish manufacturer Mokate launched an ingenious product — Mokate with Magnesium — specifically targeted towards the older generation."

That product was so popular Mokate launched a whole new line of fortified instant cappuccinos in April 2004: Vitale Aloe Vera with calcium and multivitamins, Vitale with coenzyme-Q10 and selenium, Vitale Slim Figure and Vitale Ginseng. So far the company has found the market not ready for such an exotic range. Its sales have been disappointing, and a low-key marketing campaign to alert consumers to the coffees' benefits has been blamed, at least in part, for the poor performance.

In Japan, fortified/functional instant coffee sales reached $52 million in 2005 (compared with US$3 million in Poland). Euromonitor predicts the market will grow to $71 million by 2010. Coffees there contain a diverse range of functional ingredients such as calcium, black soybeans, polyphenols and oligosaccharides, with product innovation occurring at a furious pace. "The top-ranking product is Ajinomoto's Blendy Instant Oligosacharide, which was launched in August 2005 and is designed to benefit intestinal health," Euromonitor noted.

In Indonesia, instant coffee fortified with ginseng has been driven by intensive advertising campaigns, which have seen the category grow by 32 per cent between 2002 and 2005, including 18 per cent growth in the past year alone. Euromonitor predicts fortified instant coffee will grow by nearly 90 per cent between 2005 and 2010.

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