The innovative nutrition habits in China since pandemic
Around the world, the difficult period of the pandemic and the lockdowns have led to an increase in stress levels and the number of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. As a result, in many countries, such as China, there is a greater concern for personal well-being and a desire to slow down the pace of life. In fact, a study by Boston Consulting group has estimated that the Chinese health and wellness market was worth around $70 billion in 2020. How is this interest in wellness reflected in Chinese society today? Let’s look at it through the most developed wellness market: healthy nutrition!
Since the covid-19 crisis, a study by the Chinese health information platform Dingxiang Yisheng’s 2019 National Health Insights Report (2019国民健康洞察报告), states that “93% of respondents saw their personal health as the most important thing in life” when “having a happy family” comes second by 73% and then “good mental health” by 47% in third place .
China is a country that is blessed with a great culinary diversity with many specialties in each of its regions. However, in spite of this richness of taste, the good taste of the dishes and food is not the only thing that appeals to the Chinese. They are looking for other qualities, they are more and more attentive to the nutritional values and benefits of the food they consume.
Indeed, following China’s National Health Conference in 2016, leaders made health a national priority and announced the Healthy China 2030 Blueprint. Among the objectives of its action plan, there is to reduce the obesity rate and to increase the physical activity of the population. These announcements and initiatives have encouraged the Chinese to pay more attention to their health. This is why the market for healthy foods is a growing market thanks to their “booster” effects.
New eating habits
There is a greater search for organic food that contain fewer pesticides, are less industrialized, and are considered “safer” for health. According to a statista research done in 2021, the number of organic food products selling in China almost doubled in 5 years from 23 386 in 2015 to 42 739 in 2020 .
Eating practices are also increasingly being promoted. In 2019, a statista study mentioned that 55.11% of Chinese people said that they had already followed a particular eating diet (e.g. low carb, food combining, paleo, intermittent fasting, etc.). The eating diet with the highest growing popularity recently is the flexitarian diet, that means eating meat less regularly . This is an approach that is taken out of environmental awareness or to avoid the risk of cardiovascular diseases for example. In the period of covid, this habit of food consumption also came from the fear of safety of animal agriculture when many foreign meat imports were banned from the Chinese territory.
The reduction of animal protein consumption has led to the creation of plant-based protein alternatives. These alternatives are for example made from soybeans, seeds, and plants with good protein content. Moreover, “a report from Mintel indicated that plant protein drinks rose to popularity with almost 87% of Chinese consumers now drinking plant-based protein drinks” . Chinese and foreign companies understood the need and demand of Chinese consumers regarding food innovation, plant-based products, but also fermentation and cell-based technologies.
Some examples of successful brands in the alt-protein industry are “HERO”, a Shanghai-based alt-meat company with their plant-based chicken and beef ; and there is “Beyond Meat” which is an American alt-protein company known for their plant-based sausage and burger patties.
However, meat alternatives are still quite expensive, which does not allow everyone to buy them and share the benefits of these foods. To boost consumption, it would be appropriate to use KOLs or KOCs and to do livestreams to present the products, test them, show recipes…
Nutritional supplements and vitamins in the form of capsules or tablets are no longer the only products on the wellness market in China.
The new food trend of this year 2021 in China is Beauty Snacks. What are Beauty Snacks? They are snacks (gummies, jellies, energy bars, cookies…) made with ingredients such as collagen, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E etc. that are supposed to boost the body for internal beauty (good digestion, organ health…) and external beauty (luminous skin, slowing down skin aging…).
It is a way to take care of your body everywhere and at any time of the day. The Chinese have a stressful life rhythm because of the workloads, that is why such a convenient, pleasant, and effective solution to use for its well-being is very appreciated.
According to Jing Daily, the edible beauty market is estimated to reach $3.7 billion (23.8 billion RMB) by 2022.  This is also due to the fact that the young Chinese generation (millennials and Gen Zers) is increasingly incorporating snacks into their daily diet. This is a very lucrative industry in the near future for local and foreign companies in this field.
Some examples of brands selling beauty snacks are the collaborations between the beauty brand CHANDO and Pejoy with their biscuits sticks made with niacinamide (a kind of vitamin B) ; the skincare supplement brand Xiaoxiandun and ice cream company Chicecream that created an icecream filled with freshly stewed bird’s nest ; and collagen gummy candies created by the sweets company Be & Cherry and the dairy giant Mengniu.
These snacks are selling incredibly well on ecommerce platform as Alibaba’s Tmall announced that “even before the pandemic, sales of convenient edible beauty packs […] were already growing at a rate of 2000-percent year-on-year in 2019” .
To wrap up, let’s review the trendy wellness market opportunities to keep in mind : alternative proteins, healthy drinks, and beauty snacks. These are innovative markets with new customers who are increasingly demanding new products to improve their daily lives, their beauty and their health.
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 Chozan, “Chinese Consumers Keen on Healthy Eating”, 2020.
 Statista, “Number of organic food products in China from 2011 to 2020”, 2021.
 Statista, “Have you ever followed a particular diet, eg. low carb, food combining, paleo, intermittent fasting?”, 2021.
 Daxue Consulting, “An insight into the growing health awareness in China”, 2021.
 Jing Daily, “The New Wellness Trend In China Is Beauty Snacks”, 2021.