China Focus: Baijiu expansion, kiwifruit modernisation, New Protein and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo contact

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Baijiu expansion, kiwifruit modernisation, New Protein and more feature in this edition of China Focus. ©Getty Images
Baijiu expansion, kiwifruit modernisation, New Protein and more feature in this edition of China Focus. ©Getty Images

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Baijiu expansion, kiwifruit modernisation, New Protein and more feature in this edition of China Focus

Globalising baijiu: Ming River growing presence in US, Europe with cocktail strategy to attract Western consumers

A baijiu brand formed via a collaboration between Chines and US enterprises is growing its presence in the West as it seeks to educate drinkers on the world’s most widely consumed alcohol category through its use in cocktails.

Created in 2018, US-based Ming River was formed in partnership with Luzhou Laojiao, China’s oldest distillery, which wanted to create an international baijiu brand. Baijiu is the world’s most widely produced and consumed alcohol category by volume, selling more each year than whiskey and vodka combined. In China, eight billion litres of baijiu are consumed yearly. Baijiu is an umbrella term for all traditional Chinese spirits.

Ming River is Sichuan style baijiu, distilled from sorghum grain and is 45% alc./vol.

There is a large group of drinkers around the world that liked spirits but wasn't drinking baijiu​,” said Derek Sandhaus, co-founder and communications director of Ming River.

Kiwifruit modernisation: Chinese firm establishes R&D centre to develop sector alongside government’s 2035 vision

China Shenshan Orchard Holdings (China Shenshan) has established a specialised R&D centre focusing wholly on kiwifruit innovation and the modernisation of the sector, in accordance with the local government’s 2035 vision for agri-food development.

China is the world’s largest consuming nation of kiwifruits, eating an estimated 2.2 million tonnes or 52% of the total global volume consumed and outnumbering closest competitor Italy by some seven times.

When we last spoke to the firm, its Executive Director David Zhao had told us that he had seen a rapid rise in kiwifruit volumes sold locally in China, rising sharply both in terms of volumes and profits over the past few years, with demand continuing to rise even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The company is very confident in the kiwifruit market expansion here [in China], so much so that [in 2021] we moved to become a pure-play kiwifruit producer [from] making and selling baijiu previously,”​ he said.

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PODCAST: ‘Integrating, not replacing’ – HEROTEIN VP on the New Protein movement in China and her leap from finance to food

In this episode of our Food and Beverage Trailblazers podcast we speak to Coco Tse, Vice President of Strategy and Operations at HEROTEIN, about the rise of the ‘New Protein’ movement in China, the need for localised products, and format innovation.

HEROTEIN is one of China’s leading new-generation plant-based meat companies, backed by a team of former senior R&D executives from big plant-based names such as Beyond and Impossible. The firm has a variety of plant-based beef, chicken and other items already being sold on Chinese supermarket shelves and other retail channels, with more innovations such as hybrid plant-based-cultured meat products and ready-to-eat/ready-to-heat items on the way as well.

In China, what is commonly known as ‘alternative protein’ has been dubbed ‘New Protein’, as the industry believes that this distinction is important to heighten appeal and acceptance amongst consumers.

“We call it ‘New Protein’ instead of alternative protein because the aim is for consumers to perceive these products - whether plant-based, cultured or made from fermented technology - as something new that can be integrated into their daily diets, and not that they necessarily have to swap out meat entirely,”​ Tse told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

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