Chinese consumers are increasingly opting for healthier drink options, including premium packaged waters and energy drinks, forgoing classic soft drinks such as Coca-Cola and Fanta, according to Patrick Healy, managing director of Swire Beverages, a major business partner of Coca-Cola. “This trend has become very evident in the past three to four years,” said Healy. “The traditional categories will be seeing single-digit growth, while those newly emerged ones will see double-digit growth rates.”
Swire is one of two major bottling partners of Coca-Cola on the mainland, along with Chinese state-owned giant COFCO’s listed subsidiary China Foods. According to the South China Morning Post, China’s soft drink market is highly fragmented, with major foreign and domestic players including Coca-Cola, Pepsi and their domestic rivals such as Hangzhou-based Wahaha, as well as Nongfu Spring, which manufactures affordable bottled waters for around 3 yuan (46 US cents).