Market education crucial to China’s probiotic market, Chr Hansen

By Wang Fangqing

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Probiotic, People's republic of china

Long term growth for probiotic products in China will require considerable market education, according to Chr. Hansen, which is showcasing an anti-constipation concept containing its BB-12 strain Food Ingredients China this month.

At the trade show in Shanghai the Danish probiotics player will be offering samples of BB-12 and fibre blend in a 6g powder packet that can be put into water or cereals.
“The ingredients combination represents an attractive ‘2 in 1’ product,”​ Charlotte Beyerholm, marketing manager at Chr. Hansen told FoodNavigator.

Along with the BB-12 promotion, it will also offer different flavored probiotic sample products, such as chewable tablet, to attract Chinese food manufacturers.

“Our products can be customized into other forms including powder blends and capsules,” ​Beyerbolm said.

The Hørsholm-based company is no stranger to the Chinese market. With an operation in Beijing, it has so far inked deals with some major Chinese food companies, including Hohhot based-Mengniu Dairy and Hangzhou-based Wei Chuan Corp, a Taiwanese company owned by Ting Hsin International Group, to supply probiotic species and strains for yogurt products.

Its LABS strain, composed of L.Bulgarius​, Acidophilus​, Bifidobacterium​ and S.thermophilus​, was specifically developed for Mengniu.

Huge probiotics potential

The company sees China as a huge potential market for probiotic products as the nation’s rapid economic growth has largely changed people’s lives.

“For example, work pressure is increasing and generally, families are becoming more affluent; intake of meat as compared to vegetables is increasing. All of the above are factors contributing to the incident of constipation,”​ said Beyerbolm.

However, since the Chinese probiotics market is still at its early stage, market education is essential, she added.

“For the long term growth, we invest significantly in China to work with our partners to educate consumers on probiotics,”​ she said.

Media role

Vivian Chen, a Shanghai-based analyst at the research firm Frost & Sullivan, agrees, saying media plays an important role when it comes to consumer education.

“Wellness is valued by more and more Chinese under the influence of media, and it is one of the reasons that probiotic yogurt is usually more popular than regular yogurt,”​ she said, adding it is the same with probiotic nutrition supplements and milk powder.

Right now, the major probiotics suppliers in China are all foreign companies, including Copenhagen-based Danisco, French food giant Danone Group, and the Japanese company Yakult Honsha.

“But as the technology matures, more and more Chinese companies will participate in the competition as the market will continue to expand,”​ Chen said.

China built its first lactic acid bacteria bank with independent intellectual property rights in 2007 by Inner Mongolia Agricultural University.

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