Osotspa sold 99 million bottles of Vitamin C drink during Thailand's Covid battle

12, Oct. 2020

(Photo courtesy of House Osotspa Foods Co.)
(Photo courtesy of House Osotspa Foods Co.)

By Valaiporn Chalermlapvoraboon

BANGKOK, NNA - For many, many years, flavorful. fizzy soft drinks as well as alcohol dominated Thailand’s beverage market.

But when the coronavirus pandemic, which started in China in late 2019, spread to the region and entered Thailand in March, soft drinks containing Vitamin C also became very popular alongside healthy foods, supplements and local herbs as people leaned towards a healthier lifestyle to boost their immune system.

One brand, C-Vitt, sold 99 million bottles in the first half of the year, but mostly from March to June when Thailand was placed under a state of emergency to fight the spread of the deadly virus.

Seeing worrying numbers of local Covid-19 cases surge from March to April, several health officials in the kingdom urged people to consume more Vitamin C or products containing it.

Since then, sales of quick-to-consume drinks containing Vitamin C have soared to unprecedented levels, said Osotspa Co., one of Thailand’s largest beverage manufacturers.

Osotspa, which produces C-Vitt, saw its sales jump 37.1 percent during the first three months before skyrocketing by 249.3 percent to hit 5 billion baht ($160.9 million) year-on-year in the second quarter.

The Covid-19 situation had accelerated the demand for health and hygiene products, such as its Vitamin C drink, the company said in its filing to The Stock Exchange of Thailand in August.

C-Vitt led in the category of drinks with a health function with an all-time high market share of 33.9 percent in Q2, the company reported.

Affordably priced at 16 baht, each 140ml bottle comes in orange and lemon flavors. Apart from the normal formulation with 16g of sugar, it also offers a less-sweet version with only 7g of sugar for the health conscious. Both are within Thai Health Promotion Foundation's recommended limit of not more than 24g of sugar consumption daily.

Another beverage manufacturer, Carabao Tawandaeng Co. also saw good demand for its new Vitamin C drink, Woody C Plus, after it was launched in March.

From April to July, the company made 4.5 billion baht, mainly from sales of its energy drinks, which are also popular during those hot months.

According to Kasikorn Research Center, the sector for drinks with vitamins is set to surpass 5 billion baht in 2020, representing 1.2 percent of the total drink market. It is expected to grow further to 6 to 7 billion baht in 2021.

As consumers clamored for more vitamin drinks, Thai beverage manufacturers have recently introduced a new product for the more health-conscious - vitamins-infused water.

As it is enhanced with a variety of vitamins and minerals, it is seen as a value-added, premium product, setting it apart from plain mineral or bottled water, according to Kasikorn Research Center.

With no aroma unlike flavored water, low or no sugar, and also, no color added, vitamins-infused water is considered as a convenient substitute for nutritional supplements by some consumers.

There are currently three brands of vitamins-infused water seen at convenience stores - Yanhee Hospital ‘vitamin water’, PH Plus 85 and B’lue.

Studying consumer lifestyle and habits, Kasikorn Research believes vitamins-infused water can gain popularity and replace soft drinks with Vitamin C and plain mineral water.

Montouch,14, a high-school football player who stays hydrated with this new product, said, “I drink a lot of water at my practices. I think vitamin-infused water is suitable as the taste is light rather than heavy.”

But family-business employee Kanokporn C, 29, still prefers Vitamin C soft drinks. “I think it depends on each consumer. I prefer taking Vitamin C because I tend to catch a cold easily and it’s a good product to boost my immune system,” he said.

Marathon runner Pumechai C. said he drinks water mostly to quench his thirst, but would buy a Vitamin C drink like C-Vitt once in a while.

Another consumer, Pornchai C., recalled downing C-Vitt daily for two weeks and eating more vegetables during a strict lockdown period to stay healthy.

Suwannee C., a mother of two daughters, who cooked healthier meals for her family during the state of emergency, said she would rather make her own health juices and herbal drinks from scratch than buy ready-to-drink vitamin drinks.