After the development of industrially produced MSG, China soon became the world’s largest producer and consumer. However, MSG also has certain health hazards (like the so calle ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’), so the search for healthier flavour enhancers continued. Chicken powder, actually a combination of powdered chicken meat, salt and MSG, was launched in China towards the end of the previous century as a new generation flavour enhancer. Taitaile (literally: “the lady (of the house) is happy”) became the leading producer. It adopted Totole as its official English name.
Established in 1988, Shanghai Totole Food Ltd. is one of the parties involved in drafting the national industrial standards for chicken bouillon and chicken powder in China. In 1999, Totole linked up with Nestlé to take full advantage of international resources to accelerate product and technology research and development. Adhering to the corporate vision of “Totole Makes Life Better”, Totole has been committed to the research and promotion of umami science, driving the technological innovation of umami industry, and constantly bringing healthier and tastier condiments to the consumers. A Totole Sales Conference was held in Shanghai in February 2023, on which the firm confirmed its goal of achieving sales of RMB 10 billion in 2023.
2022 has been a challenging year for Totole and a year of accumulation and breakthroughs – Totole keeps pace with changes in consumer demand and continues to innovate in diversified categories and international market development. The company also engaged in the field of sustainable development, helping green public welfare projects.
Since its establishment more than 30 years ago, from the initial production of umami products represented by chicken essence, Totole has developed into a diversified condiment enterprise covering two categories: solid compound flavour seasonings and liquid freshening seasonings. The strategy is referred to as “two-wheel drive”. Chicken powder (essence) will remain its flagship product, but most R&D effort will go to developing liquid and finished products. These includes ranges of instant soup, compound spices for home cooking (e.g. yuxiang
At present, some emerging channels such as O2O, group buying, and e-commerce are playing an increasingly important role in the Chinese condiment industry. In terms of O2O, Totole takes “fast response, multi-innovation and high efficiency” as the criterion, focuses on cross-brand joint activities, fully explores the application scenarios and convergence points between various brands and products, and customizes a total of 12 joint activities on Meituan, Yonghui, Hema and other online platforms. With the help of on-site media tools like DTC (direct consumer)/community group buying, Totole can accurately reach the consumers and accelerate the integration of product and application.
Totole is also committed to spreading the concept of “umami” to all parts of the world. At present, its products have been exported to more than 70 countries and regions such as the United States, Canada, Indonesia, the European Union and the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia, the Middle East and Africa. The company is set to improve its Halal certification, and has obtained the European Shandong Halal, the American IFANCA Halal, the Asian Halal and the MUI (Indonesia) certifications to effectively compete in the Muslim nations. Totole mushroom essence, the next generation of flavour enhancers after chicken powder, has won the title of Top Brand in the Indonesian market.
I am sure that I will be able to extend this post soon with new developments at Totole.
Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation. He is a co-author of a major book introducing the cultural drivers behind China’s economic success.