In recent decades in China, there have been a number of changes in food consumption patterns including an increasing interest in Western-style convenience and snack foods. According to some sources, the consumption of snack food grew almost 17% every year from 2005 to 2013.
This trend could provide some great export opportunities for snack food producers. It’s important when targeting Chinese markets with these types of products to recognise that Chinese tastes are not exactly the same as ours in the West, and it may be necessary to adapt products to suit Chinese palates.
The Chinese palate explained
- Chinese consumption patterns have moved more in the direction of other developed Asian nations such as Korea and China than the USA (or Australia), according to University of Nevada research.
- Salty flavours are generally preferred to sweet.
- While sweet products have some popularity in China, the Chinese are not traditionally the big dessert eaters we tend to be in the West. When Oreos were introduced to China for instance, they needed to be modified to suit the market by reducing the sugar content and adding new flavours such as green tea and mango.
What is driving the interest in these products?
These trends are being driven by an array of factors, including:
- Higher incomes.
- The convenience of packaged foods.
- Adoption of modern lifestyles.
- Increasing numbers of people moving into the cities.
- Having more food options available.
- An increase in supermarket and online shopping.
- The status associated with Western food and culture.
All that, and the fact that in China day-to-day life is no longer as much about meeting basic needs, means that Chinese citizens are able to enjoy some of the goods that were previously unavailable.
Which foods are popular?
Examples of some of the more popular types of snack foods include:
- Popcorn, including the microwave variety.
- Potato chips (crisps) – especially with traditional flavours such as Peking Roast Duck.
- Baked goods such as crackers, cakes and biscuits.
- Roasted seeds and nuts.
- Chocolate – this is gaining interest, especially in urban areas where incomes are higher as it is pricier than other candy-type products.
Considerations for exporting convenience foods
- With many brands entering the market it may be necessary to be innovative and differentiate your products to gain a competitive edge.
- According to surveys, the majority of snack-food consumers are younger women. With many women being health and weight conscious it may be necessary to focus marketing efforts on nutrition and on redesigning packaging for the female market.
- You may also need to focus on Chinese flavours and making confectionary and sweet baked products lower in sugar than they are in Australia.
Where products are sold online
Many people prefer to purchase online rather than at a supermarket due to the price advantage. The main platforms for online sales are Tmall, JD, and Yihaodian. Online sales of snack foods increase considerably around and during the Double 11 festival which is coming up soon on November 11.
Feel free to contact our team if you would like to know more about marketing convenience and snack foods to China.