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China Rising: Top 5 Health Food Trends

With the Chinese economy growing rapidly over the past decade, people’s tastes have also evolved. Many now consider the health factor of a food item to be more important than its taste. The focus on healthy foods is now so strong in China that several new business opportunities have sprung up in this segment. Here are the top five healthy food trends popular in China right now.


1. Meat-free snacks


Veganism is growing in China. Younger people are more interested in consuming meat-less meals. And one niche that has seen its demand surge is meat-free snacks. This is why there has been a slow, but steady shift to fries flavored with mushrooms rather than bacon. Burgers made of “fake meat” — that mimics the texture and quality of real meat, but is made from vegetable products — are also growing in popularity.


2. Low sugar items


Concerns about health have made a certain section of Chinese customers prefer low-sugar food products. According to estimates, the sales growth of such items in China doubled for the period between 2016 and 2018. The trend is more common among white-collar job workers and people born after 1990. Even regions like Hunan and Sichuan, which have traditionally preferred “yummy” food, are seeing a rapid growth in demand for low-sugar food items.


3. Foreign wines


According to a report by the China Wine Association, the total amount of imported wine in the country has doubled in five years. Interest in foreign wines is especially high in cities like Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Hong Kong, and so on. The rise in e-commerce transactions is believed to be behind the increasing popularity of foreign wines. Traditionally, China has preferred rice wine. However, this preference is slowly shifting toward grape, indicating that people’s tastes are changing. Grape wine is known to reduce the risk of kidney stones and cancer.


The Chinese are growing fond of foreign wines. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)


4. Alternative milk and water


Chinese consumers are showing greater interest in alternative water and milk products. In water products, a sharp increase in purchases of cactus water, coconut water, and aloe water is expected. Among the various types of milk, demand for oat milk and pea milk is getting stronger. Oatly, a famous vegan company, plans to expand its plant-based milk business in China, as it sees a huge opportunity in the country.  


“We are bringing the debate of plant-based milk and cow’s milk to Hong Kong and encouraging Hong Kong people to make well-informed milk consumption decisions… Our campaign in Europe and the U.S. is driving real behavior change… By promoting the benefits of plant-based milk as a more sustainable milk alternative, I am sure we can make the world a better world… Hong Kong people say they want more information and education about plant-based milk. We’re here to help and tell people where to find the right products,” Toni Petersson, CEO of Oatly, said in a statement (Plant Based News).


5. Fermented foods


The demand for kimchi can surge due to the interest in fermented products. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)


Demand for fermented foods is expected to explode this year as Chinese people turn to consume probiotics to maintain gut health and improve their immune systems. Items like kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut, etc. should see more buyers. According to a market research report, the global fermented food and ingredient market is projected to hit more than US$689 billion by 2023, with China acting as a strong growth driver. Fermentation apparently appeals to millennial Chinese who are seeking out new taste experiences.  

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