Bubble Food & Beverage Market: From Taiwan’s Icon to a Global Trend

According to Inkwood Research, the global bubble food & beverage market size is expected to develop with a CAGR of 6.90% during the forecast period 2024 to 2032. Bubble tea, one of Taiwan’s most renowned cultural exports, attributes chewy, sweet starch balls at the bottom of the cup, sucked up using an extra-wide straw. 

Further, the classic bubble beverage, known as Boba, combines tea, sugar, milk, and tapioca pearls. With rising demand for bubble food & beverages, over 21,000 boba shops now operate in Taiwan, complemented by thousands more globally. Major key players like Gong Cha, CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice, and Sharetea have fueled this growth, establishing bubble tea as a global food & beverage phenomenon. 

This expansion of bubble tea products mirrors a broader trend of Asian culinary influences making strides in the global market. Furthermore, bubble tea’s versatility, with its myriad flavor combinations, caters to diverse taste preferences and dietary needs, enhancing its appeal and market presence.

Bubble Food & Beverage Market - Inkwood Research

Bubble Food & Beverage Industry: A Fusion of Tradition & Innovation

The term ‘bubble tea’ encompasses a range of bubble tea products, known by various names such as tapioca ball drink, pearl shake, black pearl tea, zhen shu nai cha, and boba tea

Over time, the bubble tea sphere has expanded significantly, offering a diverse selection, including green tea, high-mountain oolong, jasmine, and tieguanyin—a roasted oolong with a coffee-like aroma. Fruit-based beverages are also common, occasionally replacing traditional bubble tea, while full-fat milk or non-dairy alternatives have largely replaced lactose-free creamers.

The primary ingredient in bubble tea products is tapioca, a gluten-free starch sourced from cassava plant tubers. Usually, tapioca-based bubble food & beverages are cooked in sweet syrup to enhance their sweetness, resulting in chewy, flavorless bubbles. These tapioca-based bubble food & beverages are nut-, gluten, and grain-free, making them suitable for consumers with specific dietary needs such as gluten sensitivity and nut allergies.

Another popular element in bubble tea products is popping boba, edible spheres with a gel-like skin filled with fruit juice. Created through spherification, these popping bobas burst with flavor when bitten into, adding excitement to fruity bubble tea, ice cream toppings, and frozen yogurt. Varieties like Mango, Strawberry, Pomegranate, and Peach offer versatility in flavor combinations.

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Moreover, innovations like cheese foam toppings and bursting boba have elevated the bubble tea experience, showcasing the industry’s adaptability and inventiveness. This evolving range of flavors caters to diverse tastes and reflects the creative culinary endeavors of both producers and consumers. The continued demand for bubble tea underscores its status as more than just a beverage; it’s a platform for culinary creativity and exploration.

International Resurgence & Customizable Appeal: Bubble Food & Beverage Market 

The success of United States bubble food and beverage providers like Kung Fu Tea, originating in New York and expanding nationally, reflects the international triumph of brands like Gong Cha from South Korea. This trend is also evident in China, with brands like HEYTEA leading the resurgence of bubble tea, known as zhenzhu naichá

Additionally, New Zealand’s dairy industry has capitalized on the trend, supplying unique boba toppings such as milk and cheese froth. Taiwan has also observed a 23% increase in exports of tea leaves, milk, and tapioca pearls, driven by the growing global demand for bubble food & beverages.

The appeal of bubble tea products lies in its customizable flavors and textures, ranging from matcha lattes to fruit-infused blends and various bubble beverage flavors like brown sugar, coconut, and taro. This level of customization resonates well with consumers.

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Furthermore, the global intrigue with bubble food & beverages has led to a creative and sustainable progression in the bubble food & beverage market. To secure bubble tea’s position in the beverage industry, bubble food and beverage providers are experimenting with novel ingredients and environmentally responsible methods. Leading providers like Bobo Hopo and Happy Bubble Tea are pioneers, offering unique variations of the traditional drink while emphasizing flavor and quality.

As Gen-Z leads the expansion of the bubble food & beverage market, the introduction of reduced-sugar options, low-calorie variants, and zero-fat teas continues to drive market revenue and ensure the sustained popularity of bubble food & beverages globally.

With a growing focus on flavorful, nutritious beverages, the demand for bubble food & beverages is on the rise globally. This trend is driven by bubble tea products’ ability to offer a diverse range of customizable flavors and textures. As the beverage industry shifts towards embracing culinary diversity and convenience, the bubble food & beverage market is expected to experience substantial growth over the forecast period.

By Rasika Kambli

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    Bubble food & beverages refer to a category of culinary products that contain chewy, gelatinous, or spherical components typically added to drinks or dishes – often made from tapioca starch, fruit jelly, or other similar materials. The most well-known example of a bubble beverage is bubble tea, also known as boba tea or pearl milk tea.

    The bubble food & beverage market is shaped by consumer preferences, health and wellness trends, innovation, and product development. Bubble food & beverage providers can adjust to evolving market dynamics, address consumer needs, and seize growth opportunities in this market.