From technology power to product power.

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The underlying logic of the long-term “market domination” of food and beverage brands

Along with the rapid rise of the new generation of consumers, the primary consumers and consumer demand in China’s FMCG market have changed. This new era of young man wants to be healthy, but they have tricky tastes and will never compromise themselves; they want to be delicious but never ignore the value. Combined with the new generation of consumer pain points, sparkling water is an excellent solution to this problem, taking into account the dual advantages of “healthy and good to drink,” and is now sought after by young people.

Under the wind, the primary industry giants have turned to the sparkling water market. Only at the beginning of 2021, there are hi-tea, Wahaha, Mengniu, Huayang 1982, Burning Lux, Rikaman, Fuzzy Voss and many other brands to increase the number of new sparkling water.

On the other hand, after two years of madness in 2019 and 2020, sparkling water mania began to fade. Consumer sanity began to awaken throughout this year’s white-hot sparkling water market, doable, instead of the old beverage companies like Nongfu Mountain Spring, Wahaha, Coca-Cola. Especially Nongfu Shanquan, this year’s launch of sparkling water products in several supermarkets and convenience systems over new brands, successfully dominating the market.

I observed that the new soda sparkling water launched by Nongfu Mountain Spring in April hit the “0 potassium sorbate” label. Many new brands are out of reach with this alone, and Nongfu Mountain Spring has quickly established a differentiation advantage in the sparkling water market, rising to the top.

As simple as it sounds, no added potassium sorbate is actually a long run behind the process; the core is log6 sterile technology.
So, what ultimately determines the product power is not the flow, hype, capital but technology power.


Log6 aseptic production line --The heavy weapon behind -0 potassium sorbate

As a food preservative, potassium sorbate can effectively inhibit mould, aerobic bacteria, and yeast and has low toxicity. By the “unless necessary, do not add” principle of food additives, unless not added will affect the quality and safety of food, you are allowed to use additives in safe doses.

According to my observation, most sparkling water products on the market, most of its ingredient list contains potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate preservatives. Usually, in producing such products using ordinary carbonic acid lines, the microbial prevention level is not higher than log5, so the need to add preservatives to inhibit microorganisms.

The courage to play without potassium sorbate reflects the extreme confidence of Nongfu Mountain Spring in the production process.

Log6 refers to the grade standard of microbial control; in layman’s terms, the production of a million bottles of beverage, there will not be a bottle of microbial contamination of the product. The degree of strictness is ten times the ordinary carbonic acid line. This is also the highest level of microbial control standard in the industry at present.

According to the 2020 prospectus disclosure, 14 of Nongfu’s beverage production lines can meet the log6 standard of sterility.

People close to Nongfu pointed out that such a high standard of aseptic production line even a decade ago, the investment cost would require hundreds of millions of dollars, not to mention the personnel and technical investment that goes with the equipment.

In 2005 and 2006, Nongfu Mountain Spring had tried Nongfu steam tea, Nongfu tea and other products. The introduction of the aseptic production line directly upgraded the production process by a significant step, which instantly “gave birth” to the birth of the Oriental leaves.

It is understood that different types of beverages require different levels of microbial control. Sugar-free tea drinks as a neutral beverage, their requirements for


A decade of leading aseptic technology

In fact, the introduction of an aseptic production line involves financial and material resources and, more importantly, the training of talents and the upgrading of production management. This requires a long period to settle and experience to accumulate.

Chen Kaili, 74, is a witness of time. He came to Nongfu Mountain Spring ten years ago and is currently in charge of Nongfu Mountain Spring’s aseptic production line. Chen Kaili said, “What I am most proud of at Nongfu in the past ten years is that I have trained our technical backbone. The aseptic line can be bought by anyone with money, but how to operate it and develop products suitable for the aseptic line is the real barrier. Talent is our biggest asset.”

At that time, the log5 standard production line was fully capable of meeting the beverage production needs of Nongfu Mountain Spring at that time. In the view of some people in the industry, the introduction of log6 aseptic technology was equivalent to killing a chicken with a slaughtering knife.

In the first two years, the aseptic line did not play its great value. Even in the peak season, it was idle up to 5 days a week. At that time, Chen Kaili’s team was a bit depressed and felt no sense of achievement. But the company executives encouraged them, “If you can’t open enough machines, you can figure out the technology. You must be the most valuable technical team in the beverage industry in China in the future.

“Now it seems to be a quite advanced technology layout, the introduction of this production line has improved ality of our products’ quality greatly, and we keep upgrading the technology during these ten years to maintain the leading industry worldwide.” Chen Kaili introduced.

In May 2011, Oriental leaves became the first new product of Nongfu Mountain Spring’s aseptic production equipment process “creation.” log6 level of aseptic production of cold filling, to solve the problem of tea drinks are very easy to oxidation discoloration. This makes Oriental Leaf a Chinese sugar-free tea drink that can truly achieve the five zeros of “0 sugar, 0 card, 0 fat, 0 flavour and 0 preservatives” in the industry. It is still the ceiling level of domestic tea drinks.

In addition to Oriental leaves, the aseptic technology of Nongfu Mountain Spring has also made a large number of beverage products. Now Nongfu Mountain Spring’s soda bubble water, also through log6 aseptic technology, successfully achieved a breakthrough in the bubble water market with no potassium sorbate as a selling point, becoming the biggest winner this year. Now many businesses also realize the value of log6 aseptic technology, have followed suit. But ten years of long-running accumulated technical advantages may be difficult to quickly make up through the short-term impact.



Nowadays, chasing “new” has become an unstoppable development trend in the food and beverage industry. Whether it is the old brands entering new categories or new consumer brands hoping to “overtake,” the pace of advancement has not stopped at all.

But in the food and beverage industry, the speed of light up, bending over the car is a false proposition. Product power is the foundation of the food and beverage business. Opening a company is essentially making products, then enhancing the product power has become an essential business development issue. Any effect is a combination of technology, knowledge, experience, history and values. Among the boosting factors of product power upgrade, technology power always occupies a place.

For any food and beverage brand, the ability to do well in the product is 1, capital and flow is the back of 0. To achieve long-term “market domination,” enterprises need to constantly upgrade technology and improve product quality.

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John Lau.

John Lau.

John Lau, a project manager holding an engineering bachelor's degree, became fascinated with optimizing beverage production equipment during his university days. As an overseas project manager, he firmly believes that educating clients on achieving efficient workflows through customized equipment design is one of the most impactful aspects of his job.

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