• Ready-to-drink and extracts or concentrates

    Canned, ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee was originally developed by the Ueshima Coffee Company. In 2008 it accounted for 19% of total consumption in Japan, where it is sold mainly through vending machines, and accounts for more than a third of all soft drink sales. RTD liquid coffee in plastic bottles and in PET packs is becoming increasing popular too and is generally sold in supermarkets, it currently accounts for just under 8% of all coffee consumption in Japan.

    Canned coffee products are also finding a good market in many emerging markets in Asia, particularly in China, although the success of the product depends very much on its availability in vending machines. RTD coffee products are particularly suitable for iced coffee drinks, and as such are beginning to make inroads in the North American and Western European markets.

    Originally the obvious requirement for success was access to vending machines and vending sites and as a result soft drink manufacturers currently dominate this sector of the market. But the major roasters are now pushing hard as well, not least because market sources consider the prospects for RTD coffee excellent because of its convenience.

    Sales of shelf-stable (i.e. not refrigerated or frozen) iced coffee products are the most likely area of growth because such products can be sold off supermarket shelves like any other dry goods. Another potential winner could be concentrated liquid coffee. The frozen concentrate is designed for commercial and out-of-home consumers such as hotels, restaurants and offices for whom, it is reported, it will produce a ‘fresh’ cup of coffee in a few seconds.

    How much these developments do for coffee consumption or indeed coffee quality is debatable – the coffee content is usually not very high and the coffee taste is often masked by flavouring. Nevertheless, it is a new and growing niche market. Brazil and Colombia are the main manufacturers of concentrate at origin. Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how smaller producers without a substantial home market to support a manufacturing capability can participate.

    Updated 11/2010 
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