More in China drink in health juice trend
HEALTH drinks, already a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States, are starting to make inroads into China as demand for wellness products rises.
A growing number of consumers in China, especially those in large cities, are indulging in cold-pressed juices and smoothies, although they may not come cheap.
The latest health fad revolving around consuming drinks that are said to cleanse and detoxify the body is extremely popular in the US and Europe.
"Often, people feel they are losing control of their diet and health, and they are under a large amount of stress," said Jacqueline Zhan Fraise, a Shanghai nutrition consultant.
"Juice fasting seems to be an easy and approachable way of getting back on track."
American Melissa McKenna was one of the first entrepreneurs to introduce the cleansing juice movement in China.
Her company Juice by Melissa has been delivering raw and unpasteurised cold-pressed juices to Beijing residents since its launch in December 2013.
The premium juices are produced in the capital city with organic fruit and vegetables from Yunnan, imported nuts from Australia and chia seeds from South America.
Formulated by Ms McKenna herself, who has a background in nutrition, the juices are sold individually or offered in daily sets of six bottles with each containing the necessary nutrients to replace a solid diet.
A daily juice cleansing costs 360 yuan (S$74), while individual cold-pressed juices to complement a diet start at 25 yuan.
Experts say that a juice cleansing can last for just 24 hours, but those who want a deep cleansing can aim for a one or two-week programme.
Juice and smoothie detox companies vouch that the cold-pressed concoctions allow the body to eliminate accumulated toxins.
Juice by Melissa said sales have risen by 40 per cent since opening a second store in Shunyi, on the outskirts of Beijing, in April this year.
The company plans to open five to 10 new stores in the next two years in Beijing to match the increasing demand for its products.
"I think the health and fitness culture is going to boom in the next three years in China," said Ms McKenna.
The market size of China's health beverage market hit 840 billion yuan last year with an average annual growth rate of 16.6 per cent from 2010, according to market consultancy Frost & Sullivan.
"Last year, beverages that offer wellness or functional benefits grew faster than the industry average," said Ryan Zhou, senior director of Nielsen China.
Although it is still a niche sector, the growth of these business ventures reflects the increasing acceptance of health products among consumers.
"But there are barriers to conquer, such as the premium price, cold-chain distribution system and consumers' unfamiliarity," said Ching Yang from market analyst firm Mintel.
US-born Elizabeth Schieffelin set up the foundation of her health drinks business in 2014 by blending superfood smoothies that she sold at farmer markets, schools and fitness studios in Shanghai.
She opened her first Lizzy's All Natural shop in May last year in Anken Life, a wellness complex in Shanghai.
While Ms Schieffelin would not share revenue figures, she said that her self-funded company is growing organically.
"I do plan to continue to grow and expand so that there are more foods available in more locations around Shanghai," said Ms Schieffelin.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK