Fruit jelly in China – struggling to come back

From extremely popular to off the shelves – fruit jelly flirting with consumers to recoup their market

People with experience in Asia probably know the stuff: brightly coloured fruit flavoured jelly in small plastic cups. Chinese women, as well as their sisters from many other East Asian nations, cannot get enough of fruit jellies. You rip off the sealing foil and suck the entire jelly into your mouth. There, it will start melting instantly and you can enjoy (if fruit jelly is your thing) the feeling as if you have just taken a huge sip of fruit juice. The effect is partly caused by a mixture of texturisers, flavours and colourants, but who cares. Well, parents did, when a few children almost choked to death on the things.

You need to be careful when giving them to younger children. Even though they melt quickly in the oral cavity, if you suck with so much enthusiasm that the thing ends up in your windpipe, you are in trouble. A number of such incidents happened and Chinese retailers reacted in a very Chinese way: they took all fruit jellies from the shelves. That radical measure will certainly protect the children, but is a big blow to the producers. And the market is huge. It has grown into an RMB 25 billion industry, with about 300 serious manufacturers in China alone. They want their market back and who would dare to blame them.

The original thing

Before I look at how some manufacturers are trying to win back the market, let’s have a look at the original standard fruit jelly. The main ingredients of fruit jelly are:

fruit juice, carrageenan, konjac sodium alginate, water and sugar.

Production is relatively easy. Just mix the ingredients, fill it into the cups, close the cups, refrigerate to set and you can package and dispatch them.

Fruit jelly is obviously not a very nutritious food. However, it is still better than the average candy. It does not contain much fat and some of the texturisers used are dietary fibre that helps the bowel function.

Insiders distinguish four types of fruit jelly producers.

  1. The big players for whom fruit jelly is their core product; like market leader Xizhilang (22.1% market share in 2019);
  2. Candy makers that also produce fruit jelly; like Hsufuchi (introduced in another post in this blog about biscuits; 2.8% market share) or Want Want (introduced in various posts about beverages; 5.5% market share);
  3. Specialist food companies for which fruit jelly fits in the product line; like pudding maker Qiaomama (Clever Mummy) that specialises in pudding for children (see the Trends page of this blog).
  4. Local companies supplying their own regional market.

Innovation

Taiwan-based manufacturer of leisure food Want Want seems to be leading these efforts by launching a number of varieties that call for a slightly different way of consuming fruit jellies, thus reducing the risk of choking.

Soft pudding

Soft puddings do not contain trans-fat and have a protein content of more than 1.1 g/100g. They are chewier than the traditional fruit jellies and therefore invite to bite and chew on, rather than sucking them in at once.

Weiduoli

Li means ‘pellet’ and refers to the small chunks of fruit in the jelly. Want Want claims that Weiduoli contains at least 5% of fruit. However, the most innovative aspect of Weiduoli is that it comes in a soft bottle, so you can suck it in small sips, rather than swallowing an entire piece of fruit jelly.

Fruit flesh jelly

This is fruit jelly with a 20% – 25% fruit content. It is more like pieces of fruit held together by jelly. This as well invites to consume it by biting off small pieces and properly chew it. It also has more dietary fibre than the classic jellies, obviously. And if you are lucky, you may even hit some remaining traces of vitamins and minerals.

Yaogundong (Rock ‘n Roll Jelly)

I’m sure that most readers love this variety even before trying it. This product is sold in a cup resembling that used to sell ice cream. The cup contains a few jellies in the traditional packing and a layer of fruit flavoured powder. According to an advertising video that is entertaining even for readers who cannot understand the Chinese, you can consume these jellies in three ways:

  1. eat the jellies in the traditional way;
  2. take them out, roll them through the powder and eat them;
  3. Wet your finger, dip it in the powder and eat the powder;

This is a clever move. Children will be tempted to go for the second way, which will slow down their moves and diminish the risk of choking to a minimum. However, I wonder if this variety will survive. I will keep you posted.

With so much innovative energy from the competition, market leader Xizhilang is also introducing a floral type of fruit jelly to re-interest its patrons in their products. Perhaps this more elegant fancy look will make consumers less eager to suck the jelly up at once.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

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China and luncheon meat – a remarkable relationship

When I first lived in China as a student in 1975, I recall that I was surprised to find domestic canned luncheon meat in the shops. My mind apparently did not immediately associate luncheon meat with China. That assumption was ungrounded. China is the number one pork nation, with almost half of all pigs in the world living there. Pork is so common in China, that in the names of Chinese pork dishes it is usually simply referred to as rou ‘meat’. So, when you see xiangla rousi (Fragrant Spicy Meat Shreds) on the menu of a Chinese restaurant, you can be almost sure that the meat is pork. Some northern Chinese use the term darou (‘big meat’) for pork, hinting that it is the main type of meat in their diet. Also see my previous post on types of meat in China.

The non-association was probably based on the fact that luncheon meat was a regular item in our kitchen when I was young. It was (and still is) a convenient ingredient to meat up a dish when you are in a hurry. You can slice it or dice it, eat it raw, stir it through your almost finished pasta or fried rice, or whatever.

Growing demand

And that is exactly the reason why the consumption of luncheon meat has been increasing so rapidly in China during the past few years. The following table shows the consumption of from 2012 to 2018.

Year Consumption (mt)
2012 136,000
2013 155,000
2014 181,000
2015 213,000
2016 256,000
2017 298,000
2018 347,000

That is a continuous double-digit growth. However, when you look at the absolute figures and compare them with the size of the Chinese population, you don’t need a calculator to figure out that this growth rate can continue for quite a while. With the expansion of the modern life style with its much faster pace to second and third tier Chinese cities, the demand for convenient cooking ingredients will grow with it.

A quick and nutritious dish: egg-coated slices of luncheon meat

Opportunity for whom?

Does this mean that international suppliers of luncheon meat should see China as their major target for growth in the coming years? Well, yes and no. Yes, because the growth will take place; no, because you have to cope with fierce competition from domestic competitors. The following table shows the local production of luncheon meat for the same years.

Year Production (mt)
2012 476,000
2013 496,000
2014 522,000
2015 503,000
2016 539,000
2017 619,000
2018 701,000

Again, no calculator is needed to see that, even with the little dip in 2015, domestic production exceeds demand for each year. Moreover, the annual increase has fastened since 2016.

Export/import

China is exporting luncheon meat to various parts of the world. However, it has been surprisingly difficult to find statistics with similar details as for consumption and production. This is perhaps related to a number of quality issues that have occurred in various countries importing Chinese luncheon meat.

In spite of the sufficient domestic production, China is importing some luncheon meat as well. Hormel’s seminal Spam is obviously available, followed by Tulip from Denmark. There is also Betchina from Russia.

Top brands

 

Top domestic brands are Maling from Shanghai, Gulong from Xiamen and Yingjinqian from Guangzhou, in that order. It is not easy to categorise domestic products. Let’s try do so on the basis of ingredients. The following table lists the ingredients as indicated by the above three producers.

Brand Ingredients
Maling pork, water, corn starch, vegetable protein
Gulong pork, water, corn starch, salt
Yingjinqian meat, potable water, starch, vegetable protein

Gulong stands out in that it does not add protein from other sources than meat. Gulong is also the only product indicating salt as an ingredient. We can be sure that the other producers are also adding salt, but fail to mention it.

 

Military lunch – also for civilians

An interesting special category of Chinese luncheon meat are those produced by military manufacturers. I have already posted about military food in China and indicated that this industry is also selling to the general public for commercial reasons. The top product in this category is Lingxiang from Chongqing. Its ingredients as listed:

Pork, potable water, sugar, salt, MSG, spices

Sugar is added, probably for flavour, so are the MSG and spices. Perhaps soldiers need to be stimulated more with flavours than the general public. Another reason could be that civilians use luncheon meat as an ingredient, while soldiers will regular eat it straight from the can. In that case, they will appreciate that little extra flavour.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

China’s two dairy giants – Yili and Mengniu – compared

China’s two dairy giants

This is a short post responding to the rapid developments in the Chinese dairy industry and its impact on the global dairy market.

The announcement by Rabobank that China’s top dairy companies, Mengniu and Yili, rank 9thand 10threspectively on their Top 20 Global Dairy companies was still fresh, when the news of Yili’s acquisition of New Zealand’s Westland caused a stir in the dairy world. I can imagine that many people in this business hardly know either of these companies. The fact that both are located in the same city, Huhhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia, will make things even more intriguing. I do not need to say much about their background, as you can find that in my earlier post: ‘Mengniu – game changer of the Chinese dairy industry’.

In this post I will give a look into the product range of these companies and how each product group contributes to the turnover of each company. These are figures of the first half of 2018.

Yili

Type %
Other 1
Soft drinks 9
Milk powder 10
Other liquid products 52
Ambrosial yoghurt 15
Satine milk 10

 

Mengniu

Type %
Other 1
Soft drinks 6
Milk powder 9
Other liquid products 58
Just Yoghurt 9
Deluxe milk 17

The first conclusion is that both tables are strikingly alike. Mengniu and Yili are still closely following one another in their competition.

These tables further show that milk powder, that has been China’s main dairy product for decades in now a minor product group, at least for the country’s leading dairy companies.

A quarter of their turnover is now derived from specialty products, the final two products in each table.

Both Yili and Mengniu are mature dairy companies operating at a global level.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Sweet gold – the Chinese honey market

China’s honey consumption ranks first in the world. China is the world’s largest bee keeping, honey production and export country. China’s vast territory, rich nectar source, large population, with an increasing living standard, guarantee that the domestic honey market potential is huge. The current per capita consumption is a little over 250 gr p.a., while that for Austria is more than 1.3 kg p.a.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s honey production has been increasing steadily over the years. In recent years, the domestic market share is growing. The following table lists the China’s honey exports and the proportion of domestic sales in the period 2001-2016 (units: 10,000 mt).

Year Total Output Export Proportion of Export Domestic

Consumption

Proportion of

Domestic Consumption

2001 25.2 10.7 42.4 14.5 57.5
2002 26.5 7.6 28.67 18.9 71.33
2003 29.9 8.4 28.1 21.5 71.9
2004 29.3 8.2 28.0 21.1 72.0
2005 29.32 8.8 30.0 20.5 70.0
2006 33.3 8.1 24.3 25.2 75.7
2007 35.4 6.4 18.1 29.0 81.9
2008 40.0 8.5 21.25 31.5 78.75
2009 40.2 7.2 17.91 33.0 82.09
2010 40.1 10.1 25.1 30.0 74.9
2011 43.1 9.98 23.15 33.12 76.85
2012 44.8 11.0 24.55 33.8 75.45
2013 45 12.5 27.7 33.8 75.1
2014 46.82 13 28 33.84 72.2
2015 50.5 14.48 28.6 35 69.3
2016 70 12.83 18.3 40 57.1

This table shows that, in 2001, honey production was 252,000 mt, export 107,000 mt and about 145,000 mt were for the domestic market of consumption. By 2016, the yield of honey was 700,000 mt, and 128,300 mt were exported, the volume of the domestic consumption was about 400,000 mt, which is 2.75 times of the domestic sales in 2001. If each person buys 0.5 kg honey, over 1,300,000,000 Chinese people need over 650,000 mt, so the market potential is stunning!

Top brands

China has a number of top honey brands. It is not easy to rank them in a sensible order. Most brands are specialized in a particular type of honey, e.g, Baihua’s bramble honey, or Laoshan’s locust honey. The top 5 brands according to a Chinese consumer site are:

Rank brand region
1 Wang’s Jiangxi
2 Baihua Beijing
3 Guanshengyuan Shanghai
4 M&Y Hunan
5 Laoshan Jiangsu

More and more bees

While the global bee keeping industry is worrying about the increasing number of bees, the number of swarms in China has increased steadily during the past years. The following table shows the number of swarms in the period 2006 – 2017.

Year Swarms
2006 8,400,000
2007 8,500,000
2008 8,700,000
2009 8,750,000
2010 8,800,000
2011 8,850,000
2012 8,870,000
2013 8,900,000
2014 8,950,000
2015 9,000,000
2016 9,230,000
2017 9,250,000

Exports

In spite of the negative media coverage, China still exports considerable volumes of honey. The following table shows the exports to the main destinations in 2017.

Country Value (USD) Volume (kg)
Japan 73,056,708 30,109,142
UK 54,403,933 29,664,811
Belgium 25,164,242 11,389,802
Spain 17,820,548 8,897,182
Poland 17,595,171 9,087,237
Australia 12,997,760 6,406,581
Germany 10,733,514 4,936,745
Netherlands 10,723,586 5,498,740

Imports

An unfortunate aspect of the Chinese honey industry is that its lucrative nature has also made it a popular arena for fake products. Even worse is that part of this fake or adulterated honey has made its way on the international market, seriously harming the image of honey from China.

Because of the many fake honey products in China, quite a few Chinese prefer to buy imported honey. The following table shows the import figures of the Chinese Customs regarding the 2013-2016 period.

Year Import (KG) Amount (USD)
2017 5,660,034 91,297,418
2016 6,031,955 72,771,567
2015 6,517,661 74819215
2014 5,791,684 58,629,975
2013 4,856,713 42,932,079
This honey is respectively from New Zealand (Manuka), Australia, Germany, Thailand, France, Russia, Malaysia, Chile, Italy, Portugal, Swiss, UK, Spain, Canada, Greece, Taiwan Region, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Denmark, Mexico, Hungary, Poland

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Beans in China: too many to count, but never enough

Beans are considered a strategic food group in China

My post on biscuits starts by introducing the Chinese word binggan as umbrella term for a range of biscuit-like products. The word doulei, literally: ‘types of beans’, is a similar term. The major subcategory is the soybean, but it also includes all other types of beans, as well as peas. This is partly dictated by the structure of the Chinese vocabulary. Chinese knows many families of words that are di- or trisyllabic, in which the final syllable refers to a general category. In this case dou means ‘bean’, but because pea is wandou in Chinese, peas are regarded as a subtype of dou (beans). Wan by itself also means pea in Ancient Chinese, which was a highly monosyllabic language.

Beans as staple

Beans themselves are regarded as a subtype of the umbrella term zhushi, ‘staple food’, together with the various cereals and tubers. As a consequence, beans are perceived as a strategic product. A bad harvest does not only harm the farmers, but also the food safety of the nation. You do not want the supply of staple foods in your country to rely too much on imports, as that would make you vulnerable for boycotts. Still, the Chinese demand for soybeans still relies for 80% on imports.

The following table (unit: 10,000 mt), listing the national and regional production of beans in 2012 and 2017, shows that the national output has not grown that much over the years.

Region
2012
2017
National
1,730.534
1,841.561
Beijing
0.9695
0.58
Tianjin
1.49
0.8485
Hebei
32.45
20.8295
Shanxi
27.6
28.3065
Inner Mongolia
162.9
186.1941
Liaoning
34.2
21.0464
Jilin
52.5718
67.0779
Heilongjiang
479.6
719.6173
Shanghai
1.52
0.3004
Jiangsu
81.15
58.7924
Zhejiang
36.64
27.3824
Anhui
120.5
97.1389
Fujian
20.758
9.9457
Jiangxi
29.83
28.2933
Shandong
39.85
33.6169
Henan
84.56
53.3572
Hubei
32.21
38.4764
Hunan
38.44
31.98
Guangdong
20.14
11.1431
Guangxi
23.6
24.6758
Hainan
2.3543
1.7287
Chongqing
45.04
40.224
Sichuan
93.6
119.2296
Guizhou
23.6
25.5616
Yunnan
129.65
118.3145
Tibet
2.28
3.98
Shaanxi
43.12
28.6251
Gansu
33.09
25.1621
Qinghai
7.1
2.8014
Ningxia
4.7
1.73
Xinjiang
25.02
14.6015

In fact, it has gone up and down, with a slight long-term growth. The regional situation, on the other hand, shows big changes in both directions. Insiders expect considerable growth in the coming years and estimate that the output of 2019 will be 21.94 billion mt.

Key industrial figures

The growing area for bean products in China was 10.051 hectares in 2017. Chinese national statistics regarding the food industry are usually focused on so called ‘enterprises of a certain scope’. In practice, it refers to the entire industry, minus small household or workshop-like enterprises. The total turnover of the industry has increased from RMB 59.5 billion in 2013 to RMB 99 billion in 2017. The number bean processing companies of a certain scope in China was 4890 in 2017. The total profit of the industry increased from RMB 3.6 billion in 2013 to RMB 5.5 billion in 2017. Insiders estimate that it will further rise to RMB 6.5 in 2019.

Trade war troubles

China’s 2018 soybean imports were 7.9% lower than in 2017 according to statistics from Chinese customs released in January 2019 – the first drop since 2011. Fuelled by strong domestic demand for food oil and animal feed, China’s soybean imports have grown rapidly from 30 mln mt in 2007 to 95 mln in 2017. But the ongoing trade war with the US, which is the largest source of imported soybean, disrupted that trend. China has turned toward other suppliers such as Brazil, while also exploring technological solutions (such as soybean substitutes in animal feed) to reduce reliance on imports.

Products

You can make many products from beans. I will concentrate on the more typically Chinese types in this post. The Chinese perception discerns two main types of bean products: fermented and non-fermented. Ferment bean products included furu, cubes of bean curd fermented with a red mould (see my earlier post on furu in this blog) and douban, spicy fermentend bean curd, also introduced in an earlier post. Another well-known type if douchi, a black fermented paste that is best known from its frequent use in Cantonese cuisine, e.g. douchi chicken. Soybeans are also a major ingredient in soy sauce. Better known nonfermented products include: bean milk, bean strips, bean curd, dried bean curd, etc. A product that deserves to be mentioned specially is soybean milk (dounai). While the regular soy milk (doujiang) is a by-product of bean processing, soybean milk is a beverage with a higher protein content, developed as an alternative for milk. Many Chinese still have a problem with the creamy taste of milk and prefer to drink soybean milk as an alternative. With the recently increased interest in protein beverages (see my special post on that product group), soybean milk has become a product of focal interest. Another trend that benefits the bean processing industry is the growing interest in vegetarian food. Bean protein is the first alternative for animal protein, so many Chinese food technologists are busy formulating bean-based artificial meat products. These two pictures show a traditional product: doupi or dried bean curd skins, and vegetarian roast goose made from doupi.

   

Now that this post has been added to the blog, I will regular update it with the latest bean-related news and information.

Beans as ingredients

A host of food ingredients can be made from beans. Most of these have in common that they add (vegetable) protein to foods. Bean-based ingredients are even added to meat products. An example can be found in my post on the typology of meat in China, where bean powder is added to a variety of meat floss.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Zhangzhou: China’s second (first?) food capital

It has been a while, since I introduced Yantai (Shandong), China’s food industry capital. Somewhat later, I added a blog about the specialised food capitals. That list included Zhangzhou in Fujian province, as China’s canned food capital. However, the Zhangzhou food industry has developed so rapidly and broadly during the past few decades, that it should be regarded as China’s second food industry capital. In fact, the city already earned the title of “China’s famous food centre” from the China National Food Industry Association in 2011.

Determined to become a prestigious food production centre, Zhangzhou in Fujian Province is well-equipped to strengthen and enhance the structure and standards of its food industry. Zhangzhou continues its efforts to stimulate innovation and development in the food industry. The city’s ultimate aims are to establish a qualified and systematic food manufacturing centre with high standards and to strengthen its food-brand influence in the industry.

In 2013, there were 425 large-scale food manufacturing enterprises in Zhangzhou, accounting for 26.4% of the total numbers of significant enterprises from all industries. Food production values amounted to USD 12.08 bln, up 20.9% from the previous year. Exports of food and subsidiary agricultural products from Zhangzhou totalled USD 4.1 bln, up 47% and were responsible for 66% of Fujian Province’s total exports.

There are three main streams of revenue for Zhangzhou’s food industry, namely subsidiary agricultural food processing, food and wine manufacturing and beverage and tea production. Seafood, vegetables, oil and fertilizers are the main categories on the subsidiary agricultural food processing list, which generated a total production value of USD 7.8 bln in 2013 – an increase of 30%.

The total production value of food manufacturing, mainly canned food and biscuits, amounted to USD 3.3 bln, up 31.3%. The total beverage and tea production, with Oolong Tea and other beverages as best-sellers, had a value of USD 574.5 mln, an increase of 27.4%.

Speciality food

After years of development, Zhangzhou has established a firm foothold in the business of producing speciality food, such as canned fruits and vegetables, frozen vegetables and seafood and the processing of meat and preserved fruits. Of equal importance are food and food-related items such as biscuits, vegetable oil, fertilizers and tea.

Zhangzhou’s production of canned food occupies 60% of the province’s total and 11% of the nation’s total. In particular, exports of canned mushrooms represent more than 80% of China’s total. Zhangzhou also plays a significant role in many other categories. For example, it is the number one producer of canned asparagus, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots; the key production base of candied ginger, providing 80% of the European market’s supply; and the second largest exporter of processed seafood in the province.

Large-scale establishments

Among the city’s large-scale food enterprises, there are 190 (11.3% of the total) with the capacity to produce more than USD 16.1 mln worth of food. Zhangzhou’s high production capability is further proven by some impressive figures in 2012, which recorded 12 companies capable of producing more than USD 161 mln worth of food (6.3% of the total); 85 companies with a total production value of USD 32 – 161 mln (44.7%); and 48.9% of the total that could produce food with a value of USD 16 – 32 mln.

Prominent subsidiary agricultural food companies are Hongyi Grain and Oil Resources Co Ltd, Fujian Haikui Aquatic Products Group, Dabeinong Group, Fujian Dongya Aquatic Products Co Ltd and Fujian South China Sea Food Ltd.

Major food manufacturing enterprises include Fujian Zishan Group Co Ltd, China Lubao Group and Danco Group; while beverage and tea producers comprise Damin Foodstuff (Zhangzhou) Co. Ltd, Taisun Enterprise (Zhangzhou) Food Co Ltd and Tsingtao Brewery. There are two publicly listed food companies, namely the Fujian Haikui Aquatic Products Group and Tenfu Corporation. Ranli Food is a rapidly growing innovative producer of pastry, biscuits and bread.

There are 34 foreign-investment enterprises with total business values of USD 1.1 bln, representing 8% and 9.7% of the total of overseas enterprises and their value. Sixty-two companies are run by entrepreneurs from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan with values of USD 2.6bn, and 329 domestic companies have a total business value of USD 8.2bn.

Brands and awards

A dramatic increase in the number of food brands can be seen in Zhangzhou, a result of the city’s great enthusiasm for product innovation and the city government’s aggressive brand name strategy. By the end of 2013, there were 292 brands awarded “provincial-level status”. Among these, 25 are famous food names in China, one being “national-level status” and 266 are classified as the province’s “prestigious brands and products”. In 2013, seven new brands reached “national-level” and 26 new labels were awarded “provincial-level status”.

Zhangzhou’s ultimate aims are to establish a qualified and systematic food manufacturing centre with high standards and to strengthen its food-brand influence in the industry.

City by the sea

Zhangzhou is a renowned coastal city in Fujian Province with a surrounding sea area of 18,600 square kilometres and 112,300 hectares of shoal area. The 715-kilometre-long coastline starts in the north at the Jiulong River Estuary and continues down to the south to the Tielu Gang of Zhao’an County in Guangdong Province, featuring a coastal tortuous rate of 1:4.12. There are more than 20 natural harbours in the city, such as Xiamen Bay, Futan Bay, Jiuzhen Bay, Dongshan Bay and the Zhaoan Bayand Gongkou Gang. The city also has 232 islands with a 2,098-kilometre-long island shoreline, plus 36,000 hectares of usable sea area.

All of these favourable coastal landscapes have enabled Zhangzhou’s fishery industry to develop into a fully-fledged sector, producing 1.54 mln mt of seafood worth USD 2.9 bln, representing an economic value of USD 6 bln. There are more than 300 companies involved in seafood processing — producing 723,000 mt of products (25% of the province’s total), worth more than USD 2.5 bln.

Zhangzhou also exports 383,700 mt of seafood with a total value of USD 2.62 bln, registering an increase of 33.13% and 39.5% respectively. There are five enterprises that can produce seafood worth more than USD 161 mln, and 34 companies with a value of more than USD 16 mln. The city produces five of China’s most famous brands in addition to seven “provincial level labels” and 24 “prestigious” products.

The area has recently accelerated its pace of becoming a key producer of grouper fish. It is determined to accomplish the goal of being the “capital of grouper” and set a record for producing 15,000 mt of grouper, worth USD 241 mln, by 2015. The goal can only be achieved by means of continuously nurturing juvenile grouper, in addition to developing a healthy and standardised rearing system plus a commercialised strategy for fish farms.

For many years, Zhangzhou’s seafood has been exported to the US, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. Export markets are now expanding to countries and regions such as the EU, Russia and South America. In 2011, the city’s seafood products were exported to almost 80 countries and regions, with more than USD 100 mln worth of produce for sale to Taiwan, the US, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Presently, Zhangzhou, compared with other cities in the province, has gained the largest number of registered import permits to various countries and regions across the globe. For example, 45 companies are registered to be allowed to import seafood to Indonesia, 35 to Vietnam, 35 to Korea, 25 to the US, 11 to Russia and seven to the EU.

There are 97 large companies with annual production values of more than USD 805,000, and 21 of more than USD 16.1 mln. The number of export companies is increasing. There are 29 companies that export products worth more than USD 10 mln and seven companies at more than USD 50 mln. Among all, Fujian Dongshan Haikui Aquatic Products Group Co Ltd exports seafood products worth USD 200m, one of the top 10 companies in the city. Above all, there are 13 standardised fish farms in the city, three healthy breeding model farms, 20 non-hazardous production bases and 59 export centres.

Special regions

A number of sub-regions of the Zhangzhou Municipal Area have taken up the food image of Zhangzhou in their own regional marketing.

Longhai for leisure food

Within the larger Zhangzhou area there is a city called Longhai. While for Zhangzhou the food industry is regarded as a pillar of the regional economy, for Longhai it is the nr.1 industrial sector. The Municipality of Longhai has started profiling itself nationally as the ‘capital of leisure food‘ in 2019. The region is home for 605 food companies certified by the State Food and Drug Agency, covering a broad range of products. The Longhai government claims that about one third of the Zhangzhou food industry is concentrate in their region. Longhai is closer to the sea than the Zhangzhou municipal area.

Zhao’an green plum land

Zhangzhou’s Zhao’an County has been famous since ancient times as a production region of green plums. The region produces 105,000 mt p.a. of these fruits. The local government decided in 2017 to actively support the growing of plums for 5 years, investing RMB 15 mln each year. Plum exports generated over USD 50 mln in 2018. Plums are not only sold as primary produce, but also processed into various products. 38 of the major plum growing and processing companies of Zhao’an organised themselves into a Zhao’an Green Plum Industry Promotion Association in March 2019.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.

Canned food – a luxury item in China

In Western households, canned food is kept for when you have little time to prepare a meal. In China it is regarded as a luxury food

A major production and export country

The canned food industry is one of China’s earliest food industries with a good foundation and fast development. As the opening text of this post already states, canned food used to be regarded as a luxury product. As a result, canned food was mainly positioned as export product. And indeed, those exports have made a great contribution in generating hard currency over the decades. China has been able to stay in the ranks as a processor and exporter of canned food such as tomatoes, asparagus, bamboo shoots, yellow peach, orange, etc. The world’s largest canned food producers are also located in China.

The following table shows that the Chinese canned food industry has seen a turbulent development since China opened up its economy in the late 1970s.

Year Canneries

nr

Turnover

mln RMB

1978 150 1,485
1995 1775 14,592
2017 892 175,387

This table shows that the industry first grew through an increasing number of companies, followed by a period in which the worst performers had to leave the business, while the best performers grew in size.

Where are the canneries?

Canned food is produced all over China and food is usually canned near the place where the fruits and vegetables are grown and the animals are raised. E.g., Zhejiang province has been the largest export region for canned tangerines for decades. The top region is Fujian province and Zhangzhou in particular. In a previous post I already reported that Zhangzhou is often mentioned as the ‘Capital of Canned Food’ in China. A top product in this respect is canned mushrooms. 80% of the canned mushrooms exported from China leave the country via Zhangzhou. The above map shows the location of canneries in various regions of China in 2012.

Some figures

In 2017, China produced 12,395,600 mt of canned food, up 3.75%. The industry generated a total turnover of RMB 175.387 bln; up 5.46%. In the same year, China exported 2,744,800 mt of canned food; down 3.32%. This generated an income of USD 4.66 bln; up 1.3%. Canned seafood was the largest export product with a volume of 336,400 mt. The USA and Japan were the main recipients of Chinese canned food with a rate of 14% each, followed by the EU with 11% and Russia with 5%.

Domestic consumption of canned food

The canned food market in China is not plain sailing. Especially in recent years, with the increasing concern for healthy food among Chinese consumers, the image of canned food has suffered due to the long shelf life, adding preservatives and other misunderstandings, but the industry as a whole has so far withstood the test. At present, China’s canned food consumption level is still very low with only 6 kg per capita while the consumption is at 92 kg in the United States, 56 kg for the EU, and 30 kg for Japan.

Issues

China’s canned food industry is coping with problems of overcapacity, disorderly competition, unfortunate product structure and lack of innovation, while there is a huge potential market to be stimulated.  In recent years, the international market competitiveness has declined as the cost has been rising. Especially adjusting the product structure has become a priority. In fact, the changing lifestyle of the younger generation, with a busier pace of life, is posing a new market opportunity for the canned food industry in China. To cash in on that, innovation is imperative.

Strong association

As is emerging from several posts in this blog, associations are a strong influencing factor in the Chinese food industry. This also applies to the China Canned Food Industry Association (CCFIA). Established in Aug. 28, 1995, the CCFIA is the only national wide legal organization entrusted by the Chinese Government. Its members include canned food producing enterprises, sale companies, research, inspecting, detecting units, equipment manufacturers, raw material providing companies and management departments and units. The CCFIA is the representative of the common interests of the members. Its aim is to promote the development in canned food industry in China and provide high quality services to all the members.

Eurasia Consult Food knows the Chinese food industry since 1985. Follow us on Twitter.

Eurasia Consult Consulting can help you embed your business in Chinese society.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975.