Since writing about Recca (黑卡） in early 2012, many things have changed. At first, it was a challenge getting hold of Recca functional beverages made from Brazilian ingredients eg guarana, acai and acerola in China. Now, during my travels in China, i was amazed to find Recca products in northeast China (Harbin, Shenyang and Changchun) and even as far as Urumqi and Turpan in Xinjiang. Guangzhou Recca Refrigerantes (广州黑卡饮料有限公司) has done an amazing job in expanding its distribution reach to most of the country from mom-and-pop stores to large hypermarket chains.
Guangzhou Recca, founded in 2006, sell functional and energy drinks made from Brazilian ingredients. It claims to have a Brazilian partner in the form of Manaus-headquartered IMEX Indústria Comércioe Serviços Ltda, which provides the brand license and technology. I failed to find information about IMEX on the Internet. Perhaps Recca is trying to use the ‘Brazilian’ company to give it a Brazilian credential, often helpful given the perception of Brazil as energetic (football and samba) and natural (Amazon rainforest).
The most popular product is Recca 6 Hours Energy Drink. What differentiates Recca from Red Bull and other energy drinks in the market is the use of the PET bottle and guarana as an active ingredient. Guarana, perceived as more natural, thanks to its association with Brazil (rainforest), sets Recca apart from Red Bull, which uses taurine as its key ingredient. The PET bottle is smaller and robust, ideal for repeated use.
The success of Recca has opened the floodgate to new competitors. It will not be a surprise to see similar products filling store shelve going forward, all marketing with reference to Brazil such as Amazon and Amazon parrot.