At the recent Food Ingredients China show, Yuan Zhao, market analyst from Innova Market Insights shared some of the top trends and opportunities for exploration in China’s dairy market.
1) Power of functional dairy
Functional yogurt is now the topping the charts in China’s dairy market and digestive health was one of the most commonly seen claims.
Last year, one in every two new functional dairy beverages launches was related to digestive health.
The fastest growing category was seen in functional dairy with protein claims and some brands had combined proteins from plants such as chia seeds and animal milk.
Clean label and fibre claims were also finding its way into the China market, with some domestic manufacturers taking the lead with their “no additives” products, such as Tianyou Simpire Milk, Shengmu Mongolian Plateau flavoured yogurt drink.
2) Soy popular
Soy is the most common source for making plant-based dairy in China and boasted the biggest market size, with new launches of plant-based dairy numbered at 53% between years 2013 to 2017, which was higher than the global market size at over 40%.
This was because the Chinese were “most familiar with soybean”, Zhao explained.
An example of a soy-based product is Pulmone soybean milk.
Nonetheless, Zhao said that there was still opportunities for other types of plant-based dairy products.
“If manufacturers want to stand out in China, there explore the use of a greater variety of plant-based ingredients for dairy products,” she said.
3) Age targeted
The dairy market in China is also segmented according to age groups, with the elderly and children as key audiences.
Zhao said that there was a growth in functional dairy beverage for healthy ageing, which mainly target bone health, while other claims such as low fat and the addition of other compounds, such as selenium.
Children was also “an important target group”, with brain and bone benefits as the most commonly seen claims, she said.
4) Opportunities for different occasions
Manufacturers were starting to explore new dairy product consumption for different occasions, Zhao said.
An example was the concept of “drinking dairy an hour after meal”, Zhao explained that some manufacturers have claimed that doing so would allow the digestive system to perform at the optimal level.
Besides aiding the digestive system, she said that manufacturers could also explore dairy for sports occasion.
5) Novel flavours
There is no lack of innovative flavours in China’s competitive dairy market.
Ranging from durian to aloe vera, manufacturers were bold in infusing novel flavours into dairy products, Zhao pointed out.
Some of these examples include Jian Ai’s durian yogurt, Wei Chuan’s aloe vera flavoured fermented milk, Lepur’s blue cheese yogurt, salted egg yolk yogurt, and tiranmisu yogurt.