The global bubble food and beverages market size was valued at USD 4.42 billion in 2022. It is estimated to reach USD 9.75 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 9.3% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Bubble food and beverages are food and drinks that consist of boba pearls. The wildly popular and in-demand beverage boba was created in little tea shops or outlets in Taiwan during the 1980s. Tapioca, a gluten-free starch ball produced from the roots of a cassava plant, might be used as the main ingredient in boba. They are frequently cooked in a sugary syrup to make them sweeter. The final product is chewy, flavorless spheres or bubbles.
Boba is best enjoyed with beverages like bubble tea, smoothies, slushies, etc. A tea base and milk are combined to create bubble tea (or fruit flavoring). This mixture should be poured on the dark gluten-free pearls or boba. The various Boba varieties can be divided into two broad groups: Tapioca Boba and Bursting Boba. Boba comes in various flavors, from sweet flavors like honey or chocolate to fruity like grape, lychee, or watermelon.
The global market for boba has been growing due to rising consumer health consciousness and increased knowledge of the many health advantages linked with boba consumption. Bursting boba is filled with fruit juices and packed with several nutrients. This taste great and require no cooking, making it easier for consumers to incorporate these into several foods and beverages. Moreover, the rapidly increasing vegan population is anticipated to propel the demand for vegan boba foods.
Fruit boba, crystal boba, pearl boba, popping boba, and white pearl boba are generally vegan, pushing their popularity in vegan snacks, drinks, puddings, and jellies. This scenario is driving their consumption at a faster pace. Market players have been making boba dishes by sourcing tapioca as it is free of gluten, nuts, and grains, which will benefit consumers with gluten sensitivity and nut allergies. Such factors are estimated to boost market growth.
Convenient and nutritious food products like ready-to-eat bubble/boba snacks, energy drinks, and beverages are easily accepted by consumers owing to their fast lifestyles. The increasing consumption of convenient boba fruit-based snacks and drinks is further complemented by the growing popularity of the on-the-go concept when it comes to eating. This trend is particularly strong among millennials and Generation Z. Healthy snacks are easily accessible thanks to convenient and portable packaging, which makes life easier for time-starved, active, and nutrition-conscious consumers.
Fresh and all-natural ingredients packed in flexible containers that are suitable for on-the-go lifestyles are also making an impact on the industry. The rising demand for high-quality, organic, gluten-free, and vegan boba products could provide further opportunities in this market. In addition, boba is available in beverages, teas, and snacks, all of which are convenient and healthy. Several retailers, cafés, and QSRs offer these products at affordable prices, boosting product consumption. Protein-rich foods and ingredients drive innovation in the bubble food and beverages market.
Although bubble beverages and snacks are reportedly said to slow aging, boost immunity, and increase mental awareness, there are concerns about how adding flavors and excessive sugar to bubble tea and beverages can make them unhealthy. Several nutrition studies suggest that bubble/boba tea drinks are part of the larger group of sugar‐sweetened beverages (SSB) because these beverages are usually sweetened with high‐fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Consuming high sugar levels has been linked to serious health complications like obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and some forms of cancer, which restraints or hampers the consumption of bubble foods and drinks.
Major players focus on the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asian markets as they present strong opportunities for sales growth and the development of fresh and prepared food products. Players plan to continue capitalizing on this opportunity with an increased focus on these markets by utilizing the extensive knowledge of this region. Innovation in the boba drinks category has brought about new products beyond traditional milk teas and drinks, increasing both the convenience of fresh produce and its consumption.
Several product manufacturers and brands have offered healthier options with beneficial properties of organic and fresh ingredients in boba products. With the emerging trend of on-the-go healthy eating, several manufacturers are introducing new boba snacks and juices. As a result, the bubble food and beverages market is expected to benefit majorly from the surge in healthy snacking in the coming years. Product innovation in terms of clean-label ingredients and vivid flavors is also expected to provide lucrative opportunities to manufacturers.
The global bubble food and beverages market is segmented by product, source, and distribution channel.
Based on product, the global bubble food and beverages market is divided into fruit snacks, desserts, fruit beverages, bubble tea, and others.
The bubble tea segment is the most significant contributor to the market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 10.3% over the forecast period. Bubble/boba tea has become a popular street beverage owing to its trendiness, convenience, and versatility. The demand and consumption of bubble tea have also increased due to a shifting inclination toward well-brewed beverages with health-beneficial properties. The drink is made from pure loose-leaf tea blends, coffee, fruits, and innovative ingredients such as rose, taro, or coconut water. In addition, the most preferred types of bubble teas include milk tea, black tea, fresh fruit tea, smoothies or milkshakes, fresh milk, and salted cream. Due to consumers' growing demand, several cafés, restaurants, and premium tea shops have offered green teas such as matcha bubble tea as refreshing alternatives to milky, sugary caffeine-filled drinks. The most common green teas are matcha, hojicha, and jasmine.
Despite their growing consumption of snacks and desserts, boba pearls have been witnessing huge demand for drinks, juices, and cocktails. Several QSRs and food service outlets sell boba beverages in real fresh and not-sweetened fruit flavors, driving their consumption faster. Market players are also launching customized beverages in multiple flavor options and fresh and organic ingredients, similar in taste to boba teas, as consumers seek more customizable beverage choices crafted with minimal contact. These factors are driving the segment's growth.
Based on the source, the global bubble food and beverages market is segmented into tapioca-based and bursting bubbles segments.
The tapioca-based segment owns the highest market share and is anticipated to exhibit a CAGR of 8.4% over the forecast period. As with other categories within the premium food and beverage industry, the demand for tapioca-based boba foods and drinks is driven by the growing number of health-conscious consumers across the globe. Tapioca is derived from plant-based cassava root and is a staple ingredient in making tapioca boba balls/pearls. In addition, individuals seeking vegan foods and drinks continue to create a sizable demand for tapioca-based boba infused with various natural ingredients. A prominent factor driving the demand for tapioca-based boba has been its perceived health benefits over sugary caffeine-packed soft drinks and coffee.
Bursting boba, commonly known as popping boba, has a gel-like structure with juice inside, bursting when squeezed. The ingredients of popping boba generally include water, sugar, fruit juice, other flavors, and ingredients for spherification. Its formulation includes a reaction of sodium alginate, calcium chloride or calcium lactate, and gelatin, making it less healthy than tapioca-based boba. However, increasing variety in flavors—green apple, mango, strawberry, green tea, honey melon, pomegranate, orange, lychee, and more—has been driving its consumption.
Based on distribution channels, the global bubble food and beverages market is bifurcated into off-trade and on-trade channels.
The on-trade channel segment dominates the global market and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 9.5% over the forecast period. The growth of the on-trade channel has gained momentum due to rapid urbanization, changes in demographics and income, and the increasing influence of Western lifestyles that often promote the purchase of trending and handcrafted products. In addition, increased consumer preference for convenience, hygiene, and high-quality standards has driven them towards handcrafted bubble foods and beverages. High-end or fine-dining restaurants and premium bubble shops have become significant players in the on-trade channel as they offer unique dining experiences. New product and menu development is also key for stores to attract customers and differentiate themselves, boosting the segment's growth.
The off-trade distribution channel is further segmented into hypermarket, online, and other channels. Product manufacturers have been collaborating with hypermarkets, offline retailers, and distributors by sharing customer databases, distribution channels, and media platforms to help decrease costs and increase their consumer base, which will likely bode well for segment growth. Hypermarkets and supermarkets, local stores, and shopping centers have helped raise the quality standards for bubble foods and beverages and have increased competition for several small-to-medium-sized vendors operating in the market.
Based on region, the global bubble food and beverages market is bifurcated into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
Asia-Pacific is the most significant global bubble food and beverages market shareholder and is predicted to exhibit a CAGR of 9.51% during the forecast period. The presence of a wide range of bubble food and beverage providers in the region is a key factor supporting market growth. Asia-Pacific is home to the most bubble product manufacturers compared to the rest of the world, thanks to strong markets in China, Thailand, India, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. Many companies have expanded their premium offerings in other Asia Pacific countries to gain most of the market share. For instance, in June 2021, Chinese premium bubble tea chain Nayuki Holdings applied for the Hong Kong listing to raise USD 500 million to expand its networking, digitalize operations, and boost supply chain capabilities.
North America is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 9.9% over the forecast period. Increasing product penetration of these foods and beverages in the North American region will likely favor market growth. Many companies have been rolling out bubble foods and beverages in the North American market. For instance, Walmart Inc. offers Tapioca-based snacks under brands such as Jell-O, Larissa Veronica, Hawaiian, Wilde, Kraft, WuFuYuan, SONIC, and Kozy Shack. Additionally, the growing number of product launches by key regional players will complement the overall market growth. For instance, in August 2020, Del Monte Foods, Inc. expanded its product line of popping boba snacks with a new flavor- Tropical Mixed Fruit Bubble Fruit.
Europe is expected to develop at a steady pace. The popularity of healthy drinks among consumers, such as black, green, oolong, and white tea, is anticipated to expedite the expansion of the market, particularly in nations like the U.K., France, and Germany. According to an article published by Renolon in January 2022, health-conscious customers account for 25-30% of all grocery customers in Europe and the U.S. Hence, these consumers will opt for eatables with health-benefiting properties such as Tapioca-based bubble food, which will boost the sales of these products. Additionally, the growing popularity of vegan products among consumers in developed nations like the U.K. and Germany is expected to present a profitable potential for expanding vegan bubble-based beverages.
In Central and South America, growing consumer awareness about bubble foods and beverages and increasing penetration of products through restaurants, cafes, and supermarkets are likely to favor regional growth. Also, the demand for tapioca-based bubble snacks is being complemented by the number of consumers choosing healthy foods and drinks in the area. The growth of this sub-segment is expected to continue as more Brazilians become aware of the benefits of such foods. According to a report published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in 2020, approximately 29% of Brazilians older than 20 were obese, up from 15% in 2000. Such factors will support the growth of healthier food and beverage options in the region.
Middle Eastern counties such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, and Lebanon offer a great opportunity to bubble food and beverages due to the growing demand for premium food and beverages. The growing number of regional product offerings by local and international brands will likely complement the overall market growth. For instance, according to a GQ article on premium bubble tea shops in Dubai, published in September 2021, Koi Thé— a premium bubble tea brand known for its signature golden bubbles and unique brewing technique, opened its outlet in the UAE, the Dubai World Trade Center.
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