Coca-Cola Invests Heavily In Yerba Mate November 28 2013, 2 Comments
Well known South African brands such as Clicks and GI Lean have made modest investments in yerba mate by subtly adding a yerba mate variant to some of their popular weight-loss product lines. These local brands however do not even have a fraction of the confidence that the world's biggest beverage brand, Coca-Cola has in the tea-like commodity from South America.
The Ilex Paraguariensis tree ( yerba mate tree) produces a nutrient rich leaf which has been heavily cultivated in Brazil and Argentina since the late 1800's. For the local markets, the fresh leaves get dried, chopped up, matured, packaged and sold in shops and supermarkets in massive quantities as a kind of loose tea. Coca-Cola Japan made enormous success of using yerba mate as the base of a new mainstream beverage, "Matecha" which was ranked along with the Samsung Galaxy S3 in the Nikkei Trendy Magazine's Top 30 Products of 2012. Just 10 months after Coca-Cola Japan launched their "Latin Biorythm" campaign for the trendy beverage, a staggering 120 million bottles of Matecha had been sold.
Coca-Cola certainly is not the first international brand to leverage from this drink the health benefits which have been known to South Americans since the pre-colonial era. A German brand called, Club Mate (available in 39 countries) uses yerba mate to produce a caffeinated health drink which has penetrated a highly competitive market by targeting young adults who frequent the "underground" dance clubs and bars in cities such as Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg. As a result Club Mate is the new hip drink of Germany and everyone wants some of the new magic elixir of the mysterious underground.
Argentina alone is expected to produce 50 million tonnes of yerba mate in 2013, but despite this impressive figure, demand for the product has continued to outweigh its supply in recent years. The discrepancy may be due to the increased demand for yerba mate from outside of South America. Brands such as Coca-Cola are fast increasing awareness of the ancient commodity which is believed to deliver superior physiological benefits to that of coffee, green tea, fruit and raw cacao combined.