New foods launched in China in 2015

Innovative product launches in China is one of my favourite themes in this blog. You can find lots of them in various posts. While we all know that China currently is the world’s largest growing market for food ingredients, both for exporting and sourcing, what is still less known is that no region on the globe sees so many new foods and drinks being launched as China. And innovation in end products is a major creator of demand for new ingredients.

In this last post of 2015, I have delved in the news items on new products that I have retained during my daily scanning of the news streams from China. Apparently, I believed these products were somehow worth saving. Well, I am presenting the to you, my readers, today. Please don’t feel obliged to like them as I did when I saved them. However, please also do not judge them too quickly as funny or useless. Instead, try to see them as reflections of how Chinese food technologists think about developing new foods, drinks, or ingredients.

An interesting finding, after arranging the novel products according to market segment, is that dairy company Mengniu stands out as China’s top food innovator of 2015.

As for time of launching, there seems to be no real favourite month or season for putting new products on the market. However, there are now launches found for the final quarter of 2015. Perhaps the winter blues are affecting food technologists in China.

Moving on to region, Beijing and Inner Mongolia come out on top with 3 launches each. However, all new products of the latter have been launched by one company: Mengniu. A distinctive feature of the new foods and drinks from Beijing is that most of them have been developed in cooperation with a research institute or university. Using the traditional Chinese division between North (of the Yangtze River) and South, nearly all (13 out of 15) of the novel products have been launched in the North. Considering that the home town of Mengniu, Huhhot, is located close to Beijing, as is Tianjin, then almost half (7) of the products have been developed within a large circle around Beijing.

I wish you all the best for 2016 and can assure you that new posts will appear here as frequently as in the year behind us.

Primary produce

Selenium strawberries

The Yegu Group (Beijing) has put the first batch of its selenium enriched strawberries on the market. The Yegu Group has been cooperating with the Beijing Bureau for Agriculture in the development of this product. Apart from the additional fortification with selenium, these strawberries are also produced biologically. High selenium fruits and vegetables are usually produced by adding selenium to the fertiliser, or growing them on selenium rich soil. (February)

Cereals and staples

Potato mantou – a revolution in Chinese staple food

In case you have forgotten what mantou are, please revisit my dedicated post introducing this exciting product. The China Academy for Agricultural Sciences and Haileda Food (Beijing) have jointly developed a type mantou that consists for 30% of potato. This is yet another step in the process of changing the potato into a major staple of Chinese cuisine (also see my post on that topic). The researchers have announced that they next step in this R&D project is to increase the percentage of potato to 40% and then to 50%. Other potato products will also be developed, like: noodles, or bread. (June)

Meat and derivatives

New duck blood products

Huaying Cherry Valley (Xinyang, Henan) is investing in improving duck blood processing. The company has a special subsidiary to develop a range of products from duck blood, including blood powder and blood bean curd. The company produced more than 10,000 mt of duck blood in 2014. This is an interesting example of how a traditional food can be successfully developed into a commercially produced product. Interested in learning more about duck products: see my post on that topic. (April)


Mengniu launches cereal milk

Mengniu Dairy (Huhhot, Inner Mongolia) has launched a version of its DeLuxe milk mixed with cereals. It is marketed as the ideal food for office people who have to work late. DeLuxe is Mengniu’s range of milk products fortified with osteoblast milk protein. (January)

Mengniu launches yoghurt ice cream

Mengniu Dairy has launched a line of yoghurt ice cream under the Dilan brand. Mengniu intends to position this ice cream as a healthy food choice. I mentioned this product in an earlier post, focusing on the innovative advertising. (August)


Mengniu launches new organic formula

Mengniu Dairy has launched a new type of organic infant formula under the Ruipu’en brand on June 5. With this move, Mengniu hopes to better compete with the international brands. According to analysts, the launch of this new product is a logic next step after Mengniu’s acquisition of Junlebao (2010) and Yashili (2013). The company’s focus is clearly moving from a general supplier of dairy products, to one of high end infant formulae. (June)


Milking a new dairy product

Yukunlun Natural Food Engineering Co., Ltd. (Xinjiang) has launched donkey milk powder as a consumer product. CEO Zhang Ming has spent RMB 70 mln developing donkey milk-related products since 2007. So far, he has managed to break even on his investment. Zhang buys donkey milk from farmers at RMB 28 per kg. The retail price for donkey milk powder is around RMB 4000 per kg, double the price of imported cow milk powder, according to Zhang. (May)

Non-alcoholic beverages

New mineral water

A new manufacturer of mineral water, Dipu Beverage Co., Ltd. (Yanling, Henan), has been established. Its water is said to be rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. (September)

Prickly pear juice

Shengshang Green Food Co., Ltd. (Yangling, Shaanxi) has launched a line of prickly pear juice drinks. The plant has a capacity of 30,000 hls p.a. The prickly pear (Rosa roxbunghii) is a local product, but has so far not been used for industrial processing. (August)


Alcoholic beverages

New apple wine producer

The joint apple wine project of the Shanghai-based Famous Wines Net and Lanhai Fruit Co., Ltd. (Shaanxi), Malanshan Apple Wine, has started production. The current capacity is 12,000 hls of wine p.a. The plant has a storage capacity of 16,000 hls. This figures are expected to rise to 20,000 hls and 32,000 hls respectively by 2016. Apple wine is positioned as a healthier alternative for the spirits that usually drunk in the Shaanxi region. Shaanxi is one of China’s major apple regions. The traditional product in that sector is apple juice concentrate for export. However, this market is very volatile and adding another product, that is also marketable in China would be welcome. (May)

Cocktails gaining popularity

Bairun Flavour & Fragrance (Shanghai) has announced that it will increase its investment in its subsidiary Tianjin Cocktail (Tianjin) from RMB 280 to 500 mln for the production of the Rio range of cocktails. The reason for this decision is the sharply increased demands for ready to drink cocktails. Shanghai Bacchus, one of the leading companies in the Chinese alcopop market, has increased its purchase of Bairun cocktails to 6 438,400 cases in 2014, 8 times the volume of 2013. Note that another innovative aspect of this item is that it is initiated by a producers of flavours, rather than one of alcoholic beverages (July). In 2017, Bairun’s turnover was RMB 1.17 bln, 87.81% of which was derived from the sales of Rio.


Yanjing wheat beer

Yanjing Brewing (Beijing) has launched China’s first wheat (white) beer. The company uses Australian barley and wheat malt in the ratio 55:45. (August)

Arrowroot wine

Fushangfu Arrowroot Wine Co. (Zhanyi, Yunnan) has launched a new type of arrowroot wine, using locally produced arrowroot as raw material. The wine is marketed as a health drink rich in flavones, amino acids and puerarin. It also contains amounts of zinc. calcium and iron. (February)



Banana powder

Chengli Group (Hainan) is the first in China to launch a banana powder to be used as a food ingredient. It is not only a useful flavor, but simultaneously adds many nutrients a food. It can be used in beverages, cakes, ice cream, candy and even infant formula is mentioned as a possible food that can be enriched with this banana powder. (January)

Low salt yeast extract

Angel Yeast (Yichang, Hubei) has launched low salt yeast extracts as an ideal means to lower salt in many types of food. Angel’s food engineers have performed a series of tests with various levels of salt to arrive at the lowest salt level at which the taste enhancing function of the yeast extract is still not harmed. (March)

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation.


Drinks galore – the Chinese typology of beverages

The oldest Chinese carbonated beverages dates from 1874

Soft drinks is undoubtedly a Western concept. However, the history of domestic carbonated beverage in China is longer than many people may believe. The most famous soda beverages launched before 1949 are:

Brand City Year
Zhengguanghe 1874 Shanghai
Shanhaiguan 1902 Tianjin
Bawangsi 1920 Shenyang
Beibingyang 1936 Beijing
Asia 1946 Guangzhou

Most of the HQ locations were cities with considerable numbers of foreign expats.

The Chinese typology of foods and beverages is one of the recurrent themes in this blog. The typical way in which such products are divided in categories in a certain region provides an interesting look on the influence of the local culture on eating and drinking.

This post will continue with this topic with the typology of beverages. This typology has even been officially laid down in a State Standard (GB), GB10789 to be precise. It discerns the following types.

Carbonated drinks

These are relatively new in China and still strongly connected to the Western lifestyle. China’s oldest carbonated drink: Beibingyang (Northern Ice Sea) has been revived recently, which I have introduced in a separate post on the reappearance of old brands.

Protein beverages

Although not a Chinese invention, this category is much more popular in China than elsewhere in the world. They have also been introduced separately in a previous post. Protein beverages are relatively viscous liquids made from various nuts or beans, or milk, or a combination. A number of them include probiotic cultures.

Bottled water

Paying a lot of money for something that you can get from your tap for a much lower price has also taken on in China. China’s  bottled water market is expected to reach 490 mln hls of total annual consumption by 2020. The retail value of bottled water in China for 2019 is estimated at RMB 346.2 billion. Apart from the large number of branded water, new mineral water brands keep appearing in China. Many are profiling themselves with the location of their source. The trend of 2015, e.g., in this category was mineral water from Tibet.

Some statistics of the past 5 years

Year Volume




2015 841,016,000 7.60
2014 781,614,000 9.37
2013 665,114,000 13.01
2012 556,278,000 19.20
2011 178,900,000 23.67

Top brands

The following table shows the market shares of major brands in 2017

Brand Share (%)
Nongfu Spring 8.5
C’est Bon 8.0
Evian 5.0
Chef Kong 4.8
Ganten 4.6
Wahaha 4.5
Coca Cola 4.0
Others 60.7

A new variety was added to the category of bottled water by Nongfu Spring in February 2022: bottled boild water (baikaishui). This type is inspired by traditional Chinese medicine. TCM attributes many healing and nutritional functions to water that has been brought to the boil and then cooled to drinking temperature.

Tea beverages

Tea is China’s national drink, but still, tea beverages have been introduced from overseas. When foreign ice teas were launched in China, many beverage makers tried to concoct their own versions. Tea beverages with various fruit flavours appeared one after another.

Milk tea

A rapidly growing subcategory are the milk teas, based on traditional milk or butter teas drunk by Mongolians and Tibetans.


The pictures shows the Sizhou brand milk tea, with the following ingredients:

Water, crystal sugar, whole milk powder, black tea, food additives (sucrose ester, sodium bicarbonate)

In the course of 2018, China’s tea aficionados have embraced a new trend, one that is encapsulated in the growing popularity of the milk tea brand, Hey Tea. Originally sold in a tiny alleyway in Jiangmen, southern China’s Guangdong province, the brand went viral on social media because of its signature “cheese” series — a cup of hot tea topped with light cheesecake mix. Since then, Hey Tea has developed into a franchise with more than 80 outlets in 13 cities across the country. In large urban centres such as Shanghai and Beijing, customers routinely wait for hours to get their hands on a cup of cheese tea. Hey Tea’s cheese-inspired beverages are just variations of the same milk-topped teas available at many urban teashops in China. Fresh milk, skimmed milk, and cream cheese are blended and poured on top of iced tea to create a layer of creamy froth about 3cm thick.

Milk tea is becoming such a huge market that ingredients suppliers have started to prioritise it in their R&D. FrieslandCampina Kievit, e.g., is conducting research to develop the optimum dairy ingredients for Chinese milk tea. Aspects considered include: tea type, milkiness, sweetness and mouthfeel.

A new development in the Chinese tea beverage market is mixed tea drinks. Representative brands are: Teaka (tea + coffee), Chef Kong’s tea + milk, Cha pi (tea + fruit juice) and Hongchajun (tea + probiotics).


Multinationals like Coca Cola cannot afford to miss out on the popularity of tea beverages in China. The company has launched a range of tea drinks branded Chunchashe ‘Genuine Tea House’. It is marketed as not containing sugar, but still leaving a sweet aftertaste. It comes in green, black and Wulong flavours.

Herbal tea

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is making an effort to cash in on the increasing interest in health foods among Chinese consumers, as has been introduced in earlier posts. The market value was estimated at more than RMB 40 billion late 2015 and is expected to grow to close to RMB 20 billion in 2020.. A very prominent application of medicinal herbs as food ingredients are the herbal teas that have become popular during the past few years. The first and most popular, Wanglaoji, is still based on a traditional recipe. Later herbal teas are marketed as modern health or functional beverages, comparing and competing with Western drinks like Red Bull. A very recently launched product in this category is Good Night (Wan An), produced by Wan’an Technology Co., Ltd. (Beijing). Ingredients are said to include:

natural GABA, theanine, chamomile and spina date seed


Wanglaoji launched its own cola drink, Wanglaoji Cola, in January 2018. The company promoted it during the Davos Summit.

The value of the Chinese tea beverage market in 2020 exceeded RMB 100 billion.

Coffee beverages

Coffee being such a recent arrival in China, so closely linked to a Western lifestyle, it seems odd to find it as an officially sanctioned subcategory of beverages. However, they have become quite popular. Perhaps they are easier on the Chinese palate than the basic black brew. The have been introduced in this blog before, in a separate post.

Plant beverages

This category includes drinks made from the juice of vegetables and fruits, in various degrees of concentration. Cereal based drinks are also included. A subtype that is especially popular in China is called ‘fruit tea’ (guocha) in Chinese. The best English translation would be ‘nectar’. The are relatively viscous drinks with carrot or hawthorn pulp as the main ingredient.

In 2016, China’s fruit juice retail volume was 134.47 mln hls and retail sales reached RMB 100.914 billion, up 1.88%. Main brands in the Chinese fruit juice market include Uni-President, Chef Kong, Nongfu Spring, and Huiyuan. China’s top producer in this category is Huiyuan Fruit Juice (Beijing). The company was once an acquisition target of Coca Cola, but the deal was vetoed by the Chinese cartel watchdog. Huiyuan recently launched a range of juices in Malaysia under the Yami brand.

The latest addition to the fruit nectars is Zaoshanzha, a drink made from dates and hawthorn by Haoxiangni.

In terms of taste, orange juice is still the largest category of the fruit juice market in China, There are some differences in taste between the north and the south in China. Apple, peach and pear consumption is relatively high in the north market. Pure juice (‘not from concentrate’) is the growth point in this industry. Chinese women have greater demand for juice, which is related to the pursuit of a healthy figure.

Another popular new subtype is formed by the fruit vinegars. These beverages have become in vogue in the years 2015 – 2016 as health products that help burn fat. In the early stage, it looked as if they would become a success, cashing in on the general trend towards more healthy food in China. However, the tide seemed to turn mid 2018, when a prominent brand, Tiandi Nr. 1 (Tiandi Yihao)’s semi-annual report showed a turnover almost half that of the same period of the previous year.

Flavoured beverages

The literal translation of the Chinese definition of this category is: drinks made by combining food flavours, sugar or sweeteners, or acidifiers. We probably could also refer to these as: designer beverages. It is not always easy to distinguish these from other categories. If you boil tea leaves and the add other flavouring ingredients to the filtered liquid, you would have a tea beverage. However, a drink whose ingredients list includes tea extract, would count as a flavoured beverage.

Nutritious beverages

These include sports drinks and other functional beverages. This category started to boom in the course of 2016. As a result, Red Bull is confronted with an ever growing number of domestic competitors in China. One of the frist challengers (August 2016) was a vitamin drink by Want Want, presented in a gold-coloured can.


This product category is getting so popular, that a dairy company like Yili launched an energy drink of its own in April 2018: Huanxingyuan.

Solid beverages

These are sold in powdered from and infused before consumption. There is at least one traditional Chinese drink typically sold as such: suanmeitang or sour plum drink (literally: soup). A more recent, but still traditional, product is instant soy milk. Many members of the other categories are now also available in powdered form.


The picture shows Yiben brand suanmeitang, which contains the following ingredients:

Water, fructose, crystal sugar, plums, citric acid, sodium citrate, plum flavour.

Senke Beverages has launched an innovative type of suanmeitang adding traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, marketed as ‘Lotus Leaf Suanmeitang‘, in the summer of 2018. Apart from quenching thirst, it is said to lower cholesterol and have a certain slimming effect.

Daring launches – low survival

Chinese beverage makers are quite daring in launching newly developed products on the market, where Western multinationals would organise more pilots to test the products’ reception by consumers. However, a recent survey by the China Food Industry Association reveals that only 5% of newly launched Chinese beverages survive. I guess that is test marketing the Chinese way.

How do Westerners appreciate this?

Are you getting bored with my academic stories? No problem, you can now relax watching this home brew video in which a Western lady living in China introduces here own favourite Chinese beverages.

Here is another Top 5, but then of the most bizarre Chinese drinks.

Latest trend: odd flavours

The structure of the Chinese soft drinks market is undergoing rapid changes. Consumers are developing an awareness of personality, paying more attention to individual needs and preferences. This has created a market for what Chinese have started to call ‘odd flavour water (guaiweishui)’. Laoshan, China’s first and for a long time only producer of mineral water, has launched Baishecaoshui (literally: white snake grass water). It is based on Baishecao (oldenlandia). Hey Song Sarsaparilla from Taiwan is also gaining popularity. The current top producer of mineral water, Nongfu Spring (see above), has also launched odd flavour drinks: Oriental Leaves (Dongfang Shuye), which does not contain herbal extracts, but a mix of flavourings and nutrients, and Red Pointed Leaves (Hongse Jianye), which contains extracts from American Ginseng, green tea and bamboo. This market is extremely volatile. The survival rate of new drinks is generally about 10%, and is now dropping to 5%, according to recent market studies. These products are catering to the young and young Chinese consumers have a low brand loyalty where food and drinks are concerned.

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation.

Let’s meat in China – the indigenous classification of meat products

China has produced 85.170 mln mt of meat in 2018

As food and culture are so intertwined, proper market research in the food industry should take account of the ways the local culture affects the segment of the food industry that is being surveyed. A good example is the post on Leisure Food earlier in this blog. In this post, I want to introduce the Chinese categorisation of meat products as used in the official publications about the domestic meat industry. I will list the main categories and for each category provide a concise description.

Meat in general

Before turning to the typology, let’s have a look at the Chinese meat market in general.  Traditionally, China’s meat of choice is pork, however recently there has been growth in more diverse meats, for example, veal.

China is now the world’s largest producer, consumer, and importer of meat. In 2019, the country consumed around 28% of the global meat supply, which accounts for 73% of the Asia-Pacific meat market value. In the same year, the monthly import of meat products in China reached USD 1 billion, with Brazil being the leading meat supplier whereas imports from the EU countries including Netherlands, Spain, and Germany growing the fastest.

Fresh meat sales in China make up nearly 80% of the market value. Among all the types of meat, pork sales dominate the market, followed by poultry, beef. It is expected, however, that the Chinese beef and veal meat market will witness a rising demand, with the current per capita consumption rates increased by at least 25% in the next decade, whereas pork market growth will slow. Revenue in the meat segment is expected to reach USD 87.75 billion in 2023, and China’s meat market is projected to grow annually by 19.99% between 2023 and 2027.


Chinese sausages are basically the same as anywhere else. Not need to give a separate definition here. The overwhelming majority of Chinese sausages are made from pork and their Chineseness is mainly expressed by the use of seasoning and herbs.

Two popular types need to be mentioned separately:

Cantonese sausages

Cantonese sausages or la sausages are fermented sausages. The lactic acid produced during the fermentation gives the sausages a specific taste and functions as a natural preservative. Cantonese sausages are also relative hard, not unlike salami.


A number of research institutes and universities all over China are engaged in R&D to improve the production process of traditional Chinese fermented sausages. Aspects involved include: preventing the oxidation of fat, protecting the colour, enhancing the flavour using enzymes and specially desinged aromas, and decreasing the sodium level.

To learn about a novel type of sausage, date sausages, see my post on dates in this blog.

Ham sausages

This is an umbrella term for a large variety of relatively small sausages that can be consumed as a snack. Chinese love to bring them on a trip, be it a one day tour to a local scenic spot, or a train trip of a couple of days. Although they count as a meat product, many ham sausages have a high starch content to make them soft enough for easy consumption on the road. For the same reason, they are usually relatively small and individually packed.



Ham in China is again more or less the same as ham elsewhere, made from the same part of the pig. One of my earlier posts is about one of China’s most famous types of ham: Jinhua Ham.

Cured meat

Cured meat products are typically more closely related to the local culture. People in different regions like different combinations of spices. In the case of China, soy sauce is a product often used in curing meat. Star aniseed is also a prominently present in many flavoured meat products from China.

Sauce pickled meat (luwei)

This category has much in common with the previous one, the main difference being that the products in this category are boiled with spices, while cured meats are pickled and dried.

Cured meats are usually eaten a such, while sauce pickled products are dipped in a sauce when consumed. The most representative product in this category is the duck neck which has become a favourite street food all over China.

The industrialisation of this category is still low. The five major brands had a combined market share of just over 20% in 2023.

Brand Share (%)
Juewei 8.6
Zhouheiya 4.6
Ziyan 3
Huangshanghuang 2.8
Jiujiuya 1.3

Smoked and roasted meat

These products are what the name says: smoked or roasted meat, again usually first pickled.

Dried meat

A very old way to preserve meat is to air or sun dry it. A special product in this category is:

Shred meat/meat floss (rousong)

Marinated pork or beef is roasted over a slow fire until dry and then shredded. Shred beef is used to flavour white rice, rice porridge and my other relatively bland staple foods. An example of such a food is shred meat flavoured bread introduced in my blog on public nutrition in China.


Meat floss comes in three varieties:

  • Dried meat floss: the standard product;
  • Short dried meat floss: the standard product, but with vegetable oil added and fried to small pellets of short fibres;
  • Dried meat powder: the standard product, but with vegetable oil and bean powder added and shaped into small pellets.

Prepared meat products

This is an umbrella term for meat prepared in various ways into semi-finished products. The consumer can transform them into ready to eat products with a minimum of effort.

Canned meat

Canned meat comes in two categories: hard cans (e.g. luncheon meat), what we are used to refer to as canned meat and soft cans, prepared meat packed in aluminum foil. The former has to be removed from the can for further preparation, while the latter can be prepared by boiling the pack in water.



The Western hamburger is undergoing interesting transformations in China to adapt better to the Chinese palate. It is easy to guess that McDonalds was the first channel through which the beef patty was introduced to China. Burger King followed later. Although very few Chinese dislike beef, when Chinese talk about ‘meat’ in general, without mentioning a particular animal, they are always referring to pork. Burger King is responding to by adding a pork-based hamburger to its product range in China. Their ad even uses the same pun that I included in the title of this post.

To still add some foreignness to the promotion, the text in the lower left corner says that the flavour is based on ‘German roast pork knuckle’. A genuine American European Chinese potpourri of flavours!

Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation.