Margins for green snack foods have also risen, adding to the appeal of the nascent category of organic and low additive foods.
Cuiyue Geng, a food researcher from the University, indicatedprofit margins for healthy snacks in China stood at below 25% before 2006 but had risen to about 40% on average.
The leading healthy Chinese snack foods are sweet potatoes, chestnuts, dates, hawthorn and soy.
Sweet potato is the most popular healthy snack at the moment as it is rich in dietary fibres, vitamins and minerals such as potassium, iron, copper, selenium and calcium.
The vegetable has more than 50% of healthy snack foods in China, standing at close to 660m yuan (US$105m) in market share in 2010.
Chinese dates are also winning market share. The report from the University revealed that the production of Chinese dates has grown rapidly from 4.2bn (US$670m) in 2009 to 5.3 bn yuan (US$840m) in 2010, an increase of about 25% in one year.
Green (and safe)
Chinese food safety issues are are providing added interest in green foods.
“The future of healthy snacks foods in China is promising and I expect the trend to continue to grow as consumers remain wary of food safety issues here,” said Kobe Wang, managing director of Winway, a company that specialises in dietary fibres in China.
Robin Lu from Zhengning Jinniu Industrial,a company that produces healthy snacks such as dried apple and apple chips told FoodNavigator-Asia that he is expecting his company to grow its revenues by 20% in 2012.
Even though most of his company’s business is European and Nortrh American, Lu said: “Consumers are becoming more health conscious and hence our business growth will strengthen.”