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The global bubble tea market size was valued at USD 2.17 billion in 2021. The market is projected to grow from USD 2.29 billion in 2022 to USD 3.78 billion by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 7.40% during the forecast period. The global COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and staggering, with bubble tea experiencing lower-than-anticipated demand across all regions compared to pre-pandemic levels. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a slower growth of 2.76% in 2020 as compared to 2019.
The boba tea trend continued to soar in its originating region and later spread its attractiveness in other western countries, such as Canada and the U.K., and is now considered a mainstay due to its unique formulation. This popular sweetened tea is made up of high-quality milk and tapioca pearls, along with fruit powder, creamer, and sweeteners. Bubble milk tea has emerged as a cultural icon for the world and symbolizes Taiwan’s food innovation to promote its existence amidst the food service industry. For instance, Nextrends Asia 2021 displayed a surge in Taiwan’s exports of pearl milk tea’s base ingredients (raw materials, packaging and machinery, and others) which was an increment of 330% as compared to 2018. In addition, the growing gastronomic tourism, rising number of health-conscious individuals, and increased social media influences further paved the way toward growing potential.
Rising Raw Material and Transportation Cost Due to the Pandemic to Slow Down the Market Growth
The outbreak of COVID-19 forced government bodies to impose strict closure of restaurants, farms, and factories to maintain safety measures and implement social distancing. This has led to transportation delays and the functioning of both supplies (tea estates) and demand for consumption points to a standstill due to shortage of manpower and reduced visits of customers to coffee shops amidst the lockdown. According to the Indian Tea Association 2020, tea price has risen by 25%-40% on an average due to lockdown in the tea growing regions, leading to a drop in crop size along with disruptions in transportation and logistics.
Furthermore, a decline in the growth of bubble tea consumption is witnessed due to strong restrictions on import and export facilities. For instance, the base ingredients required for the preparation of black or green tea are exported from India, but due to the imposed regulations, companies were unable to process the demands of the manufacturers. Moreover, countries such as Japan, China, the U.S., and Canada are the major consumers of pearl milk tea, and have also experienced a slight dip in their growth due to hindrances in production as well as supply chains during the year 2020-21. However, since the ease of lockdowns, governments have proposed several initiatives and strategies to help the companies in recovering the losses across the globe.
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Increasing Inclination of Consumers toward Versatile Teas with Innovative Bold Flavors is a Prominent Trend
Boba tea is creating a buzz among individuals worldwide, owing to its growing appeal and novelty. The growing interest of consumers in innovative beverages with bold flavors and their willingness to experiment with various flavors is captivating the consumer’s attention, which contributes to fueling the market growth. Bubble milk tea has emerged as one of Gen Z’s trademarks as its consumption is highly witnessed by the young generation as compared to any other age group. For instance, in August 2021, according to a study by the “Business Times Newspaper,” Southeast Asia spent around USD 3.7 billion on launching “milk tea” and other similar new drinks, owing to the ever-growing demand from youth. Moreover, based on the study by the finance-based startup, Momentum Works and payment startup, Qlub, Indonesia’s bubble milk tea market ranked first among all the Southeast Asian countries. Besides this, due to its various attributes, such as low-fat and low-calorie content and other several health benefits, such as high antioxidant value, it also boosts the consumption of bubble tea across the domestic and international markets.
Availability of a Wide Range of Products for Enticing Younger Generation to Boost Growth
In this era, the growing consumer preferences for products depend on various factors such as choice of taste, price, brand, and location accessibility. All these aspects necessitate the manufacturers to develop premium quality teas by keeping the consumer demands in mind. Bubble milk tea’s surge in popularity is mainly attributed to taste, affordability, and the rising reinvention of the basic tea recipe. Bubble milk tea has a strong market potential as it offers various types and flavors of boba teas, such as fruit-flavored, green jasmine, and black tea-based milk tea, across the globe. For instance, in April 2022, U.S. based start-up namely Bubluv Inc. launched tapioca starch and konjac based bubble tea in three flavors, black milk tea with tapioca pearls, matcha soy latte with tapioca pearls, and oolong guava with tapioca pearls.
In addition, the companies are focusing on the growing incidences of lactose intolerance, and thus are working toward introducing lactose-free bubble milk tea options for individuals. For instance, in April 2020, a bubble tea company Chatime launched oat milk-based tea such as Chatime Pearl Milk Tea and Grass Jelly Roasted Milk Tea for lactose intolerant consumers. The availability of different types of milk tea offers numerous options for consumers to enjoy. These latest product ranges further act as a marketing strategy to attract a vast consumer base worldwide. Furthermore, the shift of millennials toward such products owing to their demand for superior quality tea varieties with unique flavor offerings has aided in the growth.
Consumer Shift toward Healthy Alternatives to Favor Growth
The prevalence of lifestyle disorders such as obesity and diabetes associated with the hectic lifestyle of consumers has nudged them to shift toward healthy drinks, such as ginger tea and boba teas, due to their easy customization. The specialty of milk tea is growing due to its ease of customization with various tea bases and toppings such as jellies, fruit bits, syrups, and tapioca balls. Studies showed that green tea-based milk tea is proven to be beneficial for lowering blood pressure and the risk of cancer. The consumption of bubble milk tea also improves the balance of vitamins and minerals in the human body due to the presence of various inclusions such as yogurt, cream, fruit bits, and others. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, 2022, chewing tapioca pearls can increase the salivary C-protein (CRP) and calcium (Ca) levels. Apart from the U.S. and Asian countries, the trend of milk tea is also extensively growing amongst individuals residing in the Middle East and Africa. For instance, in September 2021, Dubai witnessed the opening of various new tea outlets serving bubble tea across the country. Brands, such as Koi The Co, Moge Tee, and M.A.D. Modern Asian Desserts, expanded its business in the country by introducing various boba milk tea outlets.
Availability of Other Caffeinated Drinks to Impede Growth
Despite the burgeoning demand for such innovative tea beverages, the wide availability of other caffeinated and conventional drinks, such as coffee and chocolate, coupled with the prominent coffee consumption trends in Western countries, poses a threat to market growth. Coffee and tea are the most consumed as well as socially accepted nootropic beverages across the world, and many consumers are highly dependent on such caffeinated drinks before starting their day. Moreover, the availability of suitable alternatives, such as unsweetened tea, coconut water, fruit-infused teas, and others, offering similar benefits, hamper the global market growth. Also, due to the strong dependency on Asian countries to source raw materials, such as tapioca balls, from Taiwan, it hinders the production process and impacts their overall operations. Such challenges cumulatively hamper the growth potential of the global market.
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Shift of Consumers toward Black Tea Due to its Health-Imparting Properties Boosts Market's Performance
The black tea segment is projected to grow at a significant CAGR during the forecast period, owing to its increased preference by health-conscious consumers across every region. Consumption of black tea is highly promoted due to its strong antioxidant, anti-aging, and anti-diabetic properties. Consumers are shifting toward natural and organic food and beverage products, which is one of the major factors that would help in the growth of this segment in the market.
Followed by black tea, the green tea segment is expected to hold a major percentage of the market share. According to NCBI, healthy and natural ingredients such as green tea help in preventing weight gain and also in inducing weight loss when consumed regularly. Green tea has shown long-term energy inducing properties and has a positive effect on the regulation of body weight.
Fruit Flavor Segment is Dominating Backed by High Consumer Preference
By flavor, the market is classified into coffee, fruit, chocolate, original, and others. Among various flavors, fruit flavor is more popular, and this segment dominated the market in 2019. It includes flavor variants such as lychee, mango, passion fruit, peach, plum, strawberry, avocado, banana, grape, kiwi, lemon, and others. This segment is expected to grow significantly throughout the forecast period due to its high nutritional value as compared to other flavors, high popularity of tea-based fruity beverages, and high consumer preference.
The chocolate segment is projected to have the fastest growth in the coming years due to increasing demand for chocolate-based drinks from every age group. Chocolate flavored milk tea is tremendously popular in which chocolate powder is blended with milk to strengthen its flavor. Apart from this, coffee flavor is also anticipated to hold a strong market share in the forecast period owing to the escalated demand for coffee as a healthy beverage.
Asia Pacific Bubble Tea Market Size, 2021 (USD Billion)
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The Asia Pacific market held the largest share and was valued at USD 0.90 billion in 2021. Countries such as Vietnam and Taiwan are projected to have the largest sales. The manufacturers or entrepreneurs in the boba tea industry are venturing upon the launch of their own restaurants/cafes to attract consumers and fortify their market presence. For instance, in September 2020, Chen Shucheng started a new bubble milk tea franchise in Singapore called Meme Xpress.
Followed by Asia Pacific, the North America bubble tea market share emerged to be the second-largest and is likely to maintain its position throughout the forecast period. Countries in North America are gradually increasing the consumption of this tea owing to the growing popularity of tea-based drinks. Furthermore, there has been an increase in boba stores in the U.S. and Canada, owing to the shift in consumer preferences toward no and low-alcohol beverages, which has further contributed to the market growth.
Europe also witnessed growth in the pearl milk tea market around the same time as other Asian countries. Brands such as CHATIME and Bubbolitas established their first production units of boba drinks in 2009, and since then, the market has witnessed a growth trajectory. For instance, in June 2022, Frankly, the first Italian bubble tea chain, witnessed a massive increment of around 148% compared to the previous years via a crowdfunding campaign. The campaign will be extended due to the tremendous profit achieved, which motivates the company to broaden its product offerings and brand position. Such initiatives further support the immense growth opportunities for the companies.
Moreover, European and other Scandinavian countries are prominent followers of tea and coffee cultures, and thus are keenly interested in experimenting with new types of fruity flavors, herbal, and pearl milk teas. In addition, as Europe is not highly indulged in tea production and mostly relies on other regions for the supply of tea, it somehow limits the market growth.
South America is anticipated to grow in terms of sales volume of the products in the coming years. With globalization, new trends have started striking the food service market, thereby influencing the young generation to try new beverages. However, the consumption of tea is not as prominent as the popularity of coffee in South American countries such as Argentina and Brazil. Nevertheless, manufacturers are trying to introduce new beverage options, such as bubble milk tea, in the market.
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The Middle East & Africa showcases a slower growth as pearl milk tea is consumed as a social drink or as a gesture of hospitality. The region is witnessing a cross-cultural food consumption trend, and the growing health and wellness approach is also expected to boost the growth. Using new techniques such as molecular nitrogenation also adds innovation to the traditional recipe, thus further opening numerous opportunities for the market to bolster growth.
Companies in the Industry are Aggressively Expanding their Franchisees to Cater to the Growing Demand
Manufacturers are capitalizing on improving the functionality of boba drinks ingredients to cater to the rising demand from consumers. Companies, such as Lollicup U.S.A. Inc., Gong Cha, Chatime, and others, have invested in research and development activities to offer new variants of tea for a growing market. Other players operating in the market are Boba Box Limited, Fokus Inc., Sumos Sdn Bhd, Troika J.C. (Qbubble), and Boba Tea Company. The key players in the industry receiving high levels of popularity and response from customers are franchising their businesses into different locations.
An Infographic Representation of Bubble Tea Market
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The research report includes quantitative and qualitative insights into the market. It also offers a detailed analysis of the market size and growth rate for all possible market segments. Various key insights presented in the report are an overview of related markets, competitive landscape, recent industry developments such as mergers & acquisitions, regulatory scenario in critical countries, and key bubble tea industry trends.
Value (USD Billion)
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 2.17 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 3.78 billion by 2029.
The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.40%, during the forecast period.
The black tea segment is expected to be the leading segment in the global market.
Health beneficial attributes such as low-fat, low-calorie content, and presence of anti-inflammatory properties are the key driving factors of the market.
Chatime, Gong Cha, Coco Fresh Tea & Juice, and Lollicup USA, Inc. are the leading players in the market.
Asia Pacific is expected to dominate the market during the forecast period.
Strong dependency on Asian countries to source raw materials acts as one of the major restraints in the market.
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