A probiotic drink with an exotic bittersweet flavor that pleases the senses. We are talking about kombucha, the fermented tea drink that is revolutionizing the international organic market.

kombucha ecológica
Kombucha with lemon, honey and ginger. @123AlexeyArzamastsev

Despite being the trendy drink, kombucha has been handcrafted for more than 2,000 years. It is made from an infusion of green or black tea added to a symbiotic colony of bacteria, enzymes and yeasts called SCOBY. 

Originally from ancient China, the drink became popular due to its nutritional benefits. A Japanese emperor was healed by drinking kombucha and, since then, the brew has been known as an “elixir of life” and “eternal youth”: a functional beverage, high in probiotics.

It has been known as an “elixir of life” and “eternal youth”

Its consumption is increasing rapidly due to its detoxifying and digestive properties. Kombucha reduces cholesterol levels and blood pressure, promotes intestinal health and boosts the immune system. And, as we’ll see, these qualities are increasingly demanded by consumers around the world.

An emerging global market

According to Industry ARCs data, kombucha market size was around $1.9 billion in 2019 and it’s expected to grow at an annual rate of 16.8% through 2025.

North America leads the market in terms of revenue, holding the major share of the global industry (38.6%). The United States and Canada, are the two countries that account for most of the manufacturers of the current market (both conventional and organic). Europe is also projected to have substantial growth, especially in countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Although the kombucha market is still underdeveloped in Asian countries, the Asia Pacific region is gaining traction for the international market, due to changing lifestyle and consumption patterns. A recent study published by GM Insights forecasts that the Asia Pacific Kombucha market outlook is expected to witness over 19% CAGR by 2025. The highest market growth. And the forecasts highlight the role of China, India, Australia and Japan as the largest emerging players in the market. 

Kombucha is made by fermenting tea with SCOBY bacteria and yeast mixture. @123artfully

Organic kombucha: the most in demand

Growing health-awareness is an important factor for the global kombucha market, especially for organic kombucha, which is growing much faster compared to conventional kombucha. According to Kombucha Brewers International (KBI), an organization representing up to 300 kombucha brewers worldwide, kombucha is the fastest growing functional beverage, with an approximate annual growth rate of 30%, internationally.

In fact, the increasing need for organic, vegan and gluten-free products has urged kombucha manufacturers to innovate and increase their range with more natural formulas, sustainable packaging and new flavors such as berries, lemon, ginger, coffee or fruits.

Flavored kombucha is much more in demand than unflavored/regular kombucha. Specifically, the herbs & spices flavor segment of Kombucha that is set to grow at the fastest CAGR of 21.8% over the forecast period (2020-2025), followed by the berries flavor segment, according to Industry ARC forecasts.

Organic kombucha is growing much faster compared to conventional kombucha

The increasing accessibility of the product also boosts consumption. Retail operators play an important role in this regard. In 2020, the supermarket distribution channel gained relevance and is expected to continue to grow. Currently, kombucha is present in supermarkets, department stores and specialized stores, including online channels. Attractive and sustainable packaging plays an important role.

kombucha ecológica
Black tea kombucha. @123foodandmore

Increasing certifications

The consumption of natural and chemical-free beverages is booming and risks and safety issues related to them are also gaining potential, developing a standardized production method. As a result, the rise of regulations has become a new market trend (and need). Althought they are non-unified and heterogeneous certifications, according to each country’s own regulations, international organic certifications are becoming more and more prevalent.  

In fact, according to Lumina Intelligence data, in 2020, 93% of kombucha products were certified organic in the United States. In Australia, they were up to 29%. On the other hand, Spain is the country with the highest average of Free-from and Clean Label certifications in kombucha production, ensuring products free of artificial ingredients. And in China, 77% of kombucha production was claimed as ‘no GMOs’ (genetically non-modified organisms). 

Mün Ferments, a benchmark of high quality kombucha

The fermented tea drink is making its way into the Spanish organic market accompanied by companies such as Mün Ferments. After discovering its healthy benefits, in 2015 Jordi Dalmau and Mercè Pérez decided to launch Kombutxa, the first organic and handcrafted kombucha brand made only with natural ingredients.

«We wanted to make the most delicious and healthiest kombucha. And we have succeeded. We made an unpasteurized product, absolutely alive, to fully preserve the probiotics it naturally contains», explains to Bio Eco Actual Jordi Dalmau, CEO of Mün Ferments.

The project started with a single variety of homemade Kombutxa and, currently, Mün Ferments has an extensive menu of flavors with 8 varieties to choose from: Ginger (spicy and daring), Hibiscus (sweet), Flowers (antioxidant), Green (explosive), Verbena (fresh), Natural (the most authentic and traditional), Isotonic (with sea water) and Paleobirra (the first non-beer). All of them are certified organic, vegan and gluten-free. The company produces under it’s own brand name ‘Kombutxa’, and also produces in private label format for different players within the European Organic Sector.

Kombutxa is the first organic and handcrafted beverage which contains the less residual sugar rate on the European market

The least residual sugar rate on the market

All Kombutxa drinks «have a very easy palate and are perfect substitutes for conventional and light soft drinks and, of course, for post-workout energy drinks», Jordi Dalmau points out. In addition to being healthy, the entire Mün Ferments range contains a minimal amount of sugar: less than 2%.

This makes them the beverages with the least residual sugar rate on the European market. However, the European authorities impose the newly approved tax on sugary drinks on kombucha. «We have absolutely nothing to do with sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks», Dalmau explains. In this sense, he claims: «The authorities that have approved this tax increase should take into account that kombucha is a fermented drink and that sugar is part of its genesis. Hopefully, sooner or later, this tax increase will be corrected for our products».

kombutxa
Kombutxa range by Mün Ferments.

Healthy and sustainable

The ethical and sustainable commitment accompanies Kombutxa throughout the production process. In order to minimize the volume of waste, all production is based on a zero waste policy. This includes recyclable glass containers and the use of renewable electricity in its workshop located in Mataró (Barcelona), the largest in southern Europe: it currently has a production capacity of 3 million bottles per year.

«We were pioneers in the introduction of a kombucha that does not need to be kept cold, which means savings of up to 180 times in CO2 compared to those that go into the fridge», highlights Jordi Dalmau. «Caring for the planet is also caring for those who live on it», adds the CEO of Mün Ferments.

With the mission of boosting well-being and health through fermented tea drinks, Kombutxa is one of the benchmarks in the Spanish organic market, present in more than 5,000 points of sale. Mün Ferments is expecting to continue it’s growth within the Spanish & European Market, offering solutions to brands that want to include top quality kombucha to it’s product range.

Author: Ariadna Coma, Journalist.

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