According to the latest report from Access Asia, rising average annual incomes, greater ownership of better home cooking facilities, increased exposure to western and international cuisines and a greater array of goods in the supermarket are combining to increase sales of canned foods in China.
Indeed, since 1997 the value of canned good sales in the country has risen from CNY20.74 billion (€1.87bn) to reach CNY33.04 billion in 2003, a rise of 59.27 per cent.
Likewise, in volume terms, the market grew to 2.2 million tonnes by the year 2003, an increase onf 45.39 per cent over 1997.
Overall the canned foods market has dropped slightly in significance to the overall food market, declining from 1.50 per cent in 1997, to 1.48 per cent by 2003 because of extraordinary gains in other segments. In general terms
Breaking the market for canned food down into individual segments, Access Asia's data reveals that it is canned fruit which is becoming a clear market leading segment. Canned fruit now represents 34.56 per cent of the total market value in China, having overtaken canned meats as the leading sector in the market, mainly due to the increasing popularity of tomato. Likewise, canned meat declined from 30.75 per cent of the market in 1997 to just 26.17 per cent in 2003.
The business structure of the market remains fragmented, with no player managing to exceed more than a five per cent share. The three leading players are Xinjiang Tunhe Kaize Tomato Products, which has a 4.96 per cent market share, followed by Xinjiang Tunhe Changtong Tomato Products with a 4.14 per cent share and Xiamen Canned Food Factory with a 3.92 per cent share.
In the coming year Access Asia expects growth in this sector to slow quite significantly on the presumption that the rise of other processed food categories - such as frozen foods - will encroach on expansion.
The report says that the total canned food market is expected to reach a constant value of CNY39.36 billion by 2008, up by about 18.87 per cent on 2003, while the total volume market should grow to 2.62 million tonnes by 2008.
New growth in the market is expected to be driven by the expansion of new products, particularly tinned cooking sauces and ready meals, together with awakening of the rural markets, which will be aided by the development of distribution channels. Likewise more canned foods will be sold in local convenience stores as well as smaller supermarkets.