Much-loved fizzy drink Beibingyang bounces backChina | 9 Jul 2019 2:22 pm
Dong Miaomiao, a 34-year-old Beijinger, opens a glass bottle of Beibingyang, releasing pressure slowly and pouring the highly carbonated orange soda into his mouth. The taste, tinged with nostalgia, immediately quenches his thirst.
"Beibingyang was a highlight of my childhood," Dong said. "When I would finish the drink, I used to lick the straw. It was a taste of happiness."
With an iconic polar bear logo, the traditional soft drink brand Beibingyang, or Arctic Ocean in English, had sold about 12 million cases in sales last year, up 30 percent year-on-year, after over a decade of silence in the market.
The predecessor of Beibingyang was an ice-making factory built in 1936. The factory closed down in 1947 due to insolvency.
In 1949 when China was founded, the ice-making factory resumed production despite a lack of funds, materials and talent, and started producing soft drinks in 1951.
Beibingyang soft drinks, once served at state banquets, were considered luxury items at that time.
With the reform and opening up launched in the late 1970s the fizzy drink became accessible to more common households.
"When my family purchased a refrigerator, I always put a bottle of Beibingyang in the fridge. Our tough years tasted sweet because of the soft drink with bubbles," said Xing Huiming, party chief of Beijing Yiqing Food Group Co, the parent company of Beibingyang.
However, the popular fizzy drink disappeared off the shelves of Chinese stores in the 1990s due to reasons such as restructuring, the impact of foreign beverages like Coca-Cola and people's changing consumption habits.
"We learned management and techniques from the West, but we lost our original advantage," Xing said.
In the 2000s, Beibingyang resumed production and revived the traditional brand.
After dozens of rounds of discussions and more than 100 adjustments to the taste, the traditional soft drink brand made a comeback in 2011.
Beibingyang achieved profitability two months after it resumed production.
"In 2013, the demand exceeded supply, and fake Beibingyang fizzy drinks even appeared in the market in 2014," Xing recalled.
The company increased output and introduced other fruity blends, such as loquat, plum and sugar-free orange soda. Besides glass bottle drinks, drinks in ring-pull cans were also produced to attract younger customers.
Beibingyang started exploring markets outside Beijing since 2017. Currently, it has built 180 dealerships in cities across China and sells its products to 12 countries such as the United States, Australia and France.
The company plans to build manufacturing bases in the southwest and south to further expand domestic markets.-Xinhua