An exhibition of innovative fun foods from China
Chinese food innovation is one of my favourite themes in this blog. You can find lots of them in various posts. However, it is not easy to see trends in the Chinese food market from those scattered notes. This section of the blog is dedicated to discerning trends, through products that have been launched recently.
Unlike the Latest News page, the contents of this page will remain for a longer period, while I will simply add new products on top of the stack, marking the date of posting of each product. Late 2019, I may opt to clean this page up, but let’s cross that bridge when we get there. Not all products introduced here are actually launched on the day of posting. However, they are all recently put on the market.
In spite of the name of this section, it does not introduce completely worked out trends. It is a collection of innovative foods introduced on various Chinese sites as ‘new’, ‘useful’, ‘exciting’, etc. Different readers will interpret a product differently, based on their own product range. However, to help readers find certain types of products, I have made a few tags of recurrent aspects:
|Traditional||new form(ulation)s of traditional Chinese foods and beverages|
|Funny||textures, shapes, colours, etc., promoted as amusing|
|Convenient||promoted as more convenient to consume than the original versions|
|Healthy||promoted as healthy or nutritious|
|Fancy||promoted as luxury|
Don’t search for ‘innovative’. There is no such tag, as all products in this section are innovative in one way or another.
Special: Innovative Chinese products at SIAL China 2020
Sial China 2020 will be held in Shanghai Sept. 28 – 30. The China Food Newspaper has picked a few domestic entries as the most exciting innovative products. I introduce them here for my loyal readers before the opening of the show.
- Crispy rose flowers
Dadisj (Fujian) Agricultural Development Co., founded with Taiwanese investment, is a processor of fruits and vegetables. For this new product, fresh roses are frozen, steeped and vacuum fried. Ingredients include maltose.
- Cheese persimmon cakes
Xingtai Guohe Food Co. has been founded in 2003 as a producer of preserved fruits. This new product fits in with the growing number of cheese-flavoured foods in China. Eating the real thing is still too much for most Chinese, but a growing number of snack foods with cheese a flavouring ingredient have been appearing on the Chinese market during the past year. In fact, I would say that this product resembles the combination of (goat) cheese and dates that is so popular in Europe.
- Nine vegetable biscuits
Weibao Food Co, of Dongguan has entered this new product. Although several types of biscuits or crackers with vegetables have been on the shelves in China for years, these biscuits include 9 vegetables: spring onions, leaf mustard, baby cabbage, spinach, green peppers, carrots, tomatoes, onions and broccoli. The marketing of this product is aimed at children through their parents, using the slogan: ‘Mother’s tasty choice’.
- Frozen yoghurt cubes
This is the only innovative product in this item developed by a major company: Yili Dairy from Inner Mongolia. Yili claims that it is using a special dry freezing process developed by the space industry that retains the 100 mln lactobacillus bacteria in each cube. The probiotic used is patented by Yili.
Posted on 18/9/2020
Biscuit record – a nostalgic snack
Does anyone still remember gramophone records, those black discs that could remember music? I still have my collection somewhere in my garage. Rice cracker champion Want Want has launched a record-shaped cracker. Apart from the shape, the taste and texture is completely similar to regular rice crackers. As Want Want is already market leader in this business, I wonder what the company thinks to gain with this move. It is made in partnership with Chinese Internet content provider Netease, so perhaps the latter is benefiting from this alliance.
Strong coffee in a soft cup
Engine Coffee, one of China’s younger coffee entrepreneurs, has launched coffee in small cups under the Xiao Xiongmao (‘little panda’) brand. Those who need a strong caffein boost can drink them straight, while others can poor a cup in a glass of hot milk to create an instant latte. You can also add it to pastry batter, and impress your friends with your home-made coffee cake.
Posted on 15/9/2020
Chinese style cheese cake
Zhenzhang Food Co., Ltd. (Xi’an, Shaanxi) has launched a cheese-filled mooncake under its Yupinxuan brand. It uses Tatura cream cheese as an ingredient. Although the cheese is imported from Australia, the mooncakes are marketed as ‘French style cheese mooncakes’, undoubtedly because French sounds fancier than Australian, at least in Chinese ears.
Posted on 2/9/2020
Instant coffee from China
I usually do not copy content from the blog posts to this page, but want to make an exception for an exceptionally innovative company: Saturnbird instant coffee from Changsha. The company came up with a breakthrough an instant coffee that completely dissolves within a few seconds. No stirring required. It has adopted bright (and recyclable) packaging for its coffee pods, which is considered attractive to younger generations. The company’s patented ‘zero loss’ technology adopts cold extraction and an intelligent drying approach. This allows its flavour to approach freshly brewed coffee very closely. Targeting convenience, it takes only three seconds for the product to be dissolved in ice water, hot water, and/or milk, which is especially valued by white-collar workers.
Posted on 17/8/2020
This is not a very recent launch, but still interesting to mention, as it could be the world’s only wine made from that smelly fruit. Another salient aspect is that it has been developed by one of China’s leading distillers: Luzhou Laojiao; produced in its subsidiary in Yantai, Shandong. They have been cheating a little, though: the ingredient list includes grape and artificial flavours.
It is not easy to keep attracting the attention of young Chinese consumers. This applies particularly to beverage makers. Distiller Luzhou Laojiao, like most top Chinese distillers looking for divestment in other sectors, has launched Haila Chili Drink. The ad suggests that it is matches well with skewers and the popular cray fish.
Steamed rice cake with red sweet potato filling
This sandwich-like pastry by Liziqi consists of two layers of steamed rice with a middle layer of red sweet potato. It is inspired on a popular type of home-cooked rice congee with chunks of sweet potato to texture and flavour. They are individually packed. You can eat the cold or heat them in the microwave.
[fancy, traditional, convenient]
Huangshan preserved cabbage and pork pastry
I find myself struggling once more with the question whether this product by Super Bakery is a really innovative product. These pastries filled with preserved cabbage (meicai) and pork belly (kourou) are a traditional food redesigned for modern industrial production. However, this new product is so perfectly preserving the original textures and flavours, that it becomes a real gem. It is advertised as containing top quality vegetable oil, cabbage and pork. It comes in natural and spicy flavours.
[Traditional, fancy, convenient]
Posted on 25/5/2020
Milk that helps you sleep
As milk has always been a drink (warmed up and sweetened with honey) as something that helps you fall asleep, this new prolduct of New Hope Dairy seems like scam. However, exactly the boldness of it makes this launch worth listing on this page. This is strech strategy to the max! New Hope has added casein peptides to induce sleepiness.
Posted on 16/5/2020
Water chestnut + yumberry flavoured yoghurt
Inm (Yiming) has launched a new water chestnut + yumberry flavoured Greek style yoghurt. This is a fascinating combination of very Chinese ingredients (water chestnut and the raspberry-like superfruit yumberry (yangmei)) and a tradtional European food.
Posted on 20/4/2020
Water buffalo milk
This is probably not an innovative product according to anyone’s standard, but it is the first consumer-geared water buffalo milk in China, launched by Nanguo, China’s top specialist water buffalo milk processor. The portion of 200 ml suits the Chinese consumer who on average is still no big dairy fan.
Posted on 18/4/2020
Seaweed Pork Eggroll
Aishiyi (Jiangsu) has launched this multi-layered snack. A standard eggroll is filled with shredded pork and wrapped in a sheet of seaweed. It is a nice complex of textures and flavours, combining ingredients from sea and land.
Posted on 3/4/2020
This biscuits by Haiyu derive their name from the fact that they have been baked on small hot stones. As the picture alludes, you may occasionally find a few stones in a pack. The come in two flavours: plain and spicy.
Fruity Oolong tea
Fruit flavoured tea is not a new product, but fruity Oolong is. Minghuayouzhu has launched peach flavoured Oolong tea in fashionable triangle bags.
Monkey Head Rice Congee Biscuits
The houtoujun, (Hericium Erinaceus) or monkey head fungus in Chinese, is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Wanmei uses it as a functional ingredient in a biscuit that can dissolve in hot water or milk to form a light porridge. An interesting variation of the European dipping of biscuits in coffee, tea or cocoa.
Fungal infusion drink
This tonic drink by Jiangzhong is made from a number of traditional Chinese medicinal (TCM) herbs, including: hericium erinaceus mushrooms, ginseng, dioscorea yam, lotus seeds, poria mushrooms, coix seeds, etc. The pack includes a plastic sachet with condensed milk. According to the blogger who introduces it, it is suitable for people of all ages.
Low glycemic index meal replacing biscuits
This product name is too long to be attractive. Moreover, how many consumers are familiar with the glycemic index? On the other hand, as it is abbreviated to GI amid Chinese characters, it may stimulate people to look the expression up. For the remainder, they are simply multigrain biscuits.
Soy-flavoured dried egg
Another product that by its name my put off some Western consumers. However, this is a truly innovative product. It imitates traditional Chinese dried bean curd, but is made from eggs, making it a more nutritious product. The ingredients list:
Egg, fermented soy sauce (includes caramel colour), sugar, salt, flavours, lemon, food additives (MSG, disodium 5’-ribonucleotide, sodium pyrophosphate, sodium tri-polyphosphate, red koji red, sodium d-isoascorbate)
The brand name is also partly imitation: Master Shen, obviously alluding to the Master Kong brand instant noodles.
Posted on 25/7/2019
Meal replacing smoothie
The flow of newly launched meal replacers in China is unstoppable. Lüshou (Green Lean; a great brand name) brand smoothies come in quinoa, mango and mocha flavours. They have been adopted by the national swimming team. Who can beat that?
[healthy, convenient, fancy]
Jiangxi crisp cookies
The innovative aspect of this product is that it is a reformulation of a traditional local food: Qianniansu, literally ‘1000 year crisp’. The picture shows the ‘fragrant onion’ flavoured variety. There is also a lily flavoured one. These flavourings are also based on traditional recipes. I further like the design of the packaging; quite tasteful.
Posted on 4/7/2019
Instant noodles for children
The dusty instant noodle is engaged in a struggle of reinventing itself in various ways, as it witnessed by several items on this page. Uni-President is joining this battle with a range of instant noodles for children, suitably branded Small Heads of the Household (xiao dangjia), referring to the central position children take in their families.
Potato crisp biscuits
In the post on potato processing, you can read how the Chinese government is eager to promote the potato as China’s fourth staple food. Developing potato products is in vogue in China and Maifenxiang has launched these potato-based savoury biscuits.
We usually think of pork and beef, when hearing the word ‘sausage’. Xianghai is presenting this a healthy variation to the regular item, advertising it as easy to digest and void of additives, particularly good for young children.
Posted on 28/6/2019
Rock sugar canned peach
Linjia Puzi (Lin Family Nursery) grows its own peaches, giving them total control over the quality. The innovative aspect of this particular product is the packaging more than the freshness or other quality aspect of the fruits. This ‘can’ can be used to serve the fruit without the need to transfer it to a bowl.
Posted on 10/6/2019
Hongbaolai has launched a lychee-flavoured soda beverage. Not spectacular and perhaps not even extremely novel, but Chinese bloggers recommend it.
Posted on 26/5/2019
This product is surprising in two ways: it is the first domestic vegan yoghurt and it has been launched by an unexpected party: China’s top mineral water producer Nongfu Spring. Nongfu has been diversifying into several directions recently. Dairy, even though fake dairy, is a bold move. Let’s see if this will last.
Posted on 21/5/2019
There are already so many innovative bread products on this page, that I feel reluctant to add another one. However, I still do, as Zhangzhou-based Ranli Food’s pumpkin bread is genuinely innovative. Ranli promises a pumpkin content of at least 16%, resulting in a unique colour and flavour, without the aid of artificial ingredients. It will also increase the fibre content of the bread.
Posted on 10/5/2019
Yuxiangyuan Food (Anhui) is offering these nougat cubes crammed with fruits and nuts. The manufacturer has chosen Snow Soufflés as the English designation. The rationale behind this is not revealed, but who cares. They look a bit like the nougat product by Maidehao introduced earlier. However, they are different enough to show. And . . . I just love nougat, so I am a bit biased. Moreover, these cubes are reportedly selling like crazy.
Again a product that resembles an earlier product on this page, but that is sufficiently different to deserve to be mentioned. Hailanlan Seaweed Food (Jiangsu) has developed this seaweed biscuit consisting of two layers of seaweed with a filling of sesame sees. It makes a very healthy snack laden with minerals and dietary fibre. I wonder, though, why a turtle is needed to market this snack. Perhaps it is a sea turtle.
Posted on 4/5/2019
Triangle tea bag
The name of this product does not seem to refer to anything innovative. However, the innovative aspect is in the contents. This tea combines the famous Oolong tea with chunks of dehydrated peach. The blogger introducing this product claims that after infusion, it emits a subtle flowery smell and has a slightly sweet flavour; enough to make up for the spelling error. The producer is Bozhou Youthpond Dietary Food Co. (Anhui) and it is part of range of tea + flower drinks, some based on Pu’er tea.
[convenient, fancy, health]
An entire post in this blog is dedicated to culture changes expressed in Chinese food marketing. Here we see a trend towards individualisation expressed in the packaging as well. Some Chinese hate milk, a few like it, and many drink a glass a day for its healthy image. If there is only one milk drinker in a household of, say, four, milk can easily spoil before finishing your 1 litre bottle. Xiajin (Ningxia) has launched a 243 ml bottle of milk to solve this problem. Innovation does not have to be complex.
Cod and cheese sausage
Sailor Foods (Fujian) has launched a new type of Cod & Cheese Sausage’. It is part of a new range of steamed sausages launched by Sailor Foods. Cheese is still far from generally accepted in China, but more and more Chinese food producers are trying to use cheese as a flavouring agent to give existing foods a new, foreign, taste. These sausages would probably also look (and taste) a little bland without this novel ingredient.
Posted on 28/4/2019
Miss Dong potato crisps
I received some reactions about my remarks about ‘women liking chicken feet more than men’ via Facebook. Gender is becoming an issue in food marketing in China. Xiaowangzi Food (Zhejiang) has launched a range of potato crisps under the brand name Ms. Dong (Dong Xiaojie). The company has given no cues as to why this snack is linked to a woman, but it is odd enough to mention here, even though the food itself is far from innovative.
In those rare occasions that you find it hard to choose whether to snack on a wafer or on bread, you can grab an Yilu brand wafer bread, mind that they are also filled with cream. This is a telling product generated by the problems that Chinesse have with making choices. And yes, they are also recommended as an alternative for breakfast, as so many other novel foods introduced on this page. The wheat ears and the egg symbolise its nutritional value.
Posted on 23/4/2019
Packed cooked chicken feet
Chinese women love to chew on these until only the bare bones are left. The brand name Spice Lady and the girl on the packaging leave no doubt about the gender of the intended consumers. They come in various flavours. However, this snack may not end up in European supermarkets, until the producer can persuade a sufficient number of European women to start chewing chicken feet.
Fried dough sticks
A sheet of dough with a slice of sausage covered in a spicy sauce. According to the packaging, this is an ideal snack to eat while on the road. The sauce is provided in a separate pack, so you will not get dirty hands when taking the snack from its pack. The leaves, however, have no doubt been added by the photographer. If you want them as well, you need to buy them separately.
Posted on 16/4/2019
Probiotics are typically provided in beverages, so putting them in cakes should count as an innovation. Longsheng Food (Guangdong) is offering this strawberry-filled cake fortified with lactobacillus. Longsheng’s scientists have also put energy in designing an attractive shape and colour contrasts. This food not only pleases the soul, but your body as well.
Chinese love chestnuts, but they are usually sold by street vendors, in their peel, which is inconvenient for ladies with newly polished nails. This product from Guangxiu Eco-Food (Guizhou) allows them, and all other chestnut lovers, to enjoy chestnuts withour ruining their nails and fingers. And you don’t have to throw away the peels. It is an officially recognised ecological food; a major improvement over the coal-burning street vendors.
[healthy, traditional, convenient]
Posted on 12/4/2019
Dried lemon slices
Juguangde (Haozhou, Anhui) is an older Chinese processor of fruits and with this product it proves that it is very able to re-invent itself in the current market. These lemon slices have been sweetened with honey to give a pleasant sweet and sour flavour.
Imitating remains a favourite R&D strategy in the Chinese food industry. Zhongmin (Xiamen, Fujian) and Yifutang (Hangzhou, Zhenjiang) have launched similar products. I have no information as to who was first.
Dates or jujubes are hot in China. New products in various shapes, textures and flavours keep appearing. These strips by Yirenjia claim to be made from ‘southern sour dates’. However, the ingredients lists reveals that, apart from a host of other ingredients and additives, carrots have also been used.
Salty duck eggs
This is a traditional Chinese delicacy, mostly used to spice up the bland taste of rice congee. These duck eggs are all separately packed. The most innovative aspect is that the eggs come in various flavours: vegetable, seaweed and roasted meat.
Posted on 29/3/2019
Glutinous rice balls
This product is an interesting combination of two traditional foods: tangyuan, the glutinous rice balls typically eating half a month after Chinese New Year and mooncakes, the pastry eating during the Mid Autumn Festival. The fillings vary: mango, egg yolk, bean paste, etc. Most of these are also traditional fillings. The brand name Zhenzhenlaolao, literally: ‘Really Really Old’ reinforces that this is traditional stuff in a novel formulation.
Posted on 21/3/2019
Chia seeds oatmeal
This is not the first oatmeal in this section, and also not the first oatmeal with many nutritious dried fruit and nuts. The USP of this product by Wugumofang (literally: Five Grains Mill) is chia seeds. One Chinese blogger states that you can eat it in your yoghurt without having to worry about growing fatter.
[healthy, fancy, convenient]
Egg milk pudding
Vegetarian is increasing in popularity in China as well. However, Chinese vegetarians expect that the flavour and texture of their food resembles that of the traditional food. Wuxianzhai is bringing this vegetarian beef in a way that seems to imitate traditional Chinese cold marinated beef: Wuxiangniurou (literally: Five Flavour Beef). It is part of a range of vegetarian meats.
Posted on 17/3/2019
Peach gum is regarded as a beauty tonic in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It comes in the form of amber-hued crystals and is the resin of the Chinese peach tree (prunus persica). It is known for its beneficial properties on improving various skin conditions. Commonly prepared into soup-like desserts, often adding goji or dates. It is generally tasteless with a gelatine bouncy texture similar to bird’s nest. Peach gum is popular among Chinese women as it is rich in collagen. Up to now, most peach gum on the market contains a considerable amount of impurities. Baozhilin is now offering a more refined peach gum.
Jiuqiuju (Ninthfall) (Henan) has launched a similar product, combining peach gum with honeylocust (Gleditsia sinensis) and gum karaya.
[healthy, fancy, convenient]
Posted on 11/3/2019
Yunnan flower cake
What is special about this product is that it is inspired by a traditional local product: filo pastry filled with rose jam from Yunnan province (China’s Southwest food region). With reference to my blog about traditional Chinese desserts, it belongs to the category bing ((pan)cake, pastry). It is not a completely newly designed food, but a modern way to preserve a local tradition.
Posted on 8/3/2019
Beef shiitake sauce
Yes, I can hear you protest that this is not innovative at all. Still, it is a complete sauce that you can spoon over a quickly cooked bowl of noodles and voilà, you have a breakfast, lunch or any-time snack for people with a full agenda who still want to enjoy the proper flavours. In fact, the producer should try to promote this in Europe. I’m sure there is market for an Asian ready-to-use sauce like this.
Posted on 5/3/2019
The Chinese term bing has been introduced in the dessert blog. It literally means ‘biscuit’, but can refer to a wide range of flat sweet foods. Ume House is selling ‘honey flavoured plum biscuits’ as a healthy snack.
Sweet & Sour glass noodles
The struggle of instant noodles to maintain its position as the Chinese’ most favourite snack has been well covered in my post in this blog and my column on Just-food. One of the strategies is packing more and more condiments with the noodles. Shizuren is setting a new record in this respect. Their glass noodles come with seasoning powder, dehydrated vegetables, chili oil, spicy tripe and sesame paste. You need a big bowl to have enough space for the noodles.
Seabuckthorn milk tablets
I dedicated a special post to the superfruit seabuckthorn. Huyangfeng (Xinjiang) is combining the nutrition from the seabuckthorn with that of milk in these nutritional tablets. The promotional story positions it as a good source for calcium.
Jili NFC is promoting this maize juice as a healthy energy drink. One Chinese blogger remarks that the bottles make nice flower pots; very practical.
Posted on 22/2/2019
More breakfast(-y) items
Breakfast keeps inspiring Chinese food technologists. Here are a few more items recently promoted by Chinese influencers.
You can add oatmeal or other breakfast cereals to yoghurt to create a complete breakfast. However, why not try to add yoghurt to the cereals. Ocak is producing this oatmeal with dried fruits and yoghurt cubes. You can eat it as a complete meal, without risking spilling yoghurt on your clothes. This is the first novel food on this page that fits all categories.
[convenient, healthy, fancy, funny]
Chunguang is offering crispy coconut flakes in three flavours: natural, mango and coffee. You can eat it straight as a snack, but also add it to your breakfast cereals to add an extra layer of flavours.
Crispy rice sticks
Liuxiang’s crispy rice comes in various flavours, depending on added ingredients: sesame seeds, currents, etc. Just like the previous product, you can eat it as a snack while watching TV or add it to your breakfast cereals.
Posted on 16/2/2019
Instant milk tea
This may not sound like an exciting novel food, but its launch is directly related to the rapidly grown popularity of RTD milk tea in China. After so many brands of canned and bottled milk tea, an instant variety was bound to appear soon. Regular readers will recognise that this product is, like so many others on this page, related to the Chinese breakfast revolution as well.
Posted on 10/2/2019
Instant barley drink
Qingyuankang (Jiangsu) is producing a number of instant vegetable beverages under the Miaoyu brand. The literal meaning of this name is ‘beautiful expression’. However, ‘miao’ here refers to another character with a similar pronunciation meaning ‘sprout’. The beverage in the picture is derived from barley sprouts.
Sweet peach water
Liziyuan’s Sweet Peach Water is promoting itself as a way to increase your body Ph. It claims to be good for your complexion and conductive to sleep.
Three Squirrels is China’s currently most famous snack food brand. It is supplying various nuts and dried fruits, but has been diversifying to various other foods as well recently. This new product consists of layers of griddle cakes with red bean paste inbetween. It is promoted as an alternative for breakfast, so yet another example of the breakfast products on this page.
[convenient, healthy, funny]
We are continuing with the Chinese breakfast revolution with Dali packed toast. Two layers of toast with a dairy-based filling. It is becoming a recurrent item in this column.
I can hear you protest that this is definitely not a novel food. No, agreed, it isn’t. However, the quality of Yangguang’s banana chips is so much better than the stuff they sell in European supermarkets, even the biological ones, that it is worth introducing them here.
As I am in a ‘not novel but superior quality’ mood today, I might as well introduce this breakfast product from Huiyifang. While most oatmeals like this are oat meal with dried fruits and nuts mixed in it, here oatmeal seems like a minor ingredient. It should be a great healthy snack, but it may not be an ideal breakfast product.
There is another product in the same category: fruit mixed oat meal from Wugukuaixian (litterally: Multigrain Hotline).
Hot strips, spicy strips of wheat gluten, are becoming a vogue in China. Gluten has been used for ages in Chinese cuisine as a vegetarian alternative for animal protein, but recently the Chinese snack food industry has discovered that it is a raw material that can be made into a broad range of savoury snacks. Weilong is recommended by Chinese influencers as one of the better hot strip brands.
Coconut Egg Roll
Egg rolls are not a new product in China. They have been around for a while and are based on a European type of pastry. Still, this egg roll by Duobilun strikes me as an interesting novel version. Coconut-flavoured foods are favourite in most parts of China.
Purple Rice Bread
Regular visitors will recognize this: yet another product of the Chinese breakfast revolution. Two slices of bread with purple rice in between: a genuine fusion of Western and Chinese food, a genuine fusion food.
Haoshi is making a similar product with read bean filling between the bread slices. This product is directly named: breakfast toast.
Although Hainan produces coconuts, Xiduoduo is promoting its new coconut beverage as ‘made from imported coconut liquid’. Unlike earlier coconut drinks, like Yedao, this drink also contains coconut meat.
In principle, I prefer not to post too many similar products on this page, but this herbal tea still strikes me as interesting enough to add. It is produced by Laojin Mofang and consists of dried longan slices, dates and goji berries. It is a refreshing beverage that lasts a long time, as you can add boiling water a number of times.
Finally, a ‘fun’ novel food again. Top candy maker Hsu Fu Chi has launched this corn-shaped and corn-flavoured candy. It has soft, gelly-like texture, but has a unique mouthfeel due to the rough outside.
Posted on 15/1/2019
Double layered seaweed snack
Xuanji has developed a seaweed snack consisting of two layers of dried seaweed with a layer of sesame seeds in-between. It claims to be additive free. The packaging is less convenient for carrying around, but it is necessary to protect this brittle snack.
Panpan is also cashing in on the Chinese breakfast revolution with ‘dry cake’. The texture resembles that of toast, but its taste that of cake. It advertises with a ‘milky flavour’. The packing emanates a Western identity.
Instant Chongqing Hot Pot dip
Hot pot is hot in China and the Chongqing hot pot with its fiery broth is one of the favourites. Several ready to use seasoning packs are already on the market, but Shiji has launched a version in the form a pack of cubes. You can break off one or more for your pot, depending on the spiciness you require. The picture shows that it includes a generous layers of lard.
Posted on 11/1/2019
Nutritious instant porridge
‘Instant’ is, and will remain, a key term in this section of my blog. Today I am posting an innovative instant congee by Haifusheng. The flavours shown here are spare ribs + mushrooms (ingredients: pork, shiitake, cabbage), home-made seafood (ingredients: squid, celery, onion), and stewed beef (ingredients: beef, daylily, wood ear).
This product name will not strike many European readers as appetizing. However, Chinese consumers recommend it online. It is made from konjak, an ingredient abundantly available in China. It is produced by Moroccoo and comes in several flavours, all rather spicy. It is promoted as containing lots of fibre, so ‘you can eat as much as you like’.
Noodles to share between 5 people
This product by Chailinji appeals to the communitarian nature of Chinese culture. It is actually not a new product or even a novel way of presenting it. Pre-portioned dried noodles have been available for years. If you can then still make people introduce you as innovative, your product is genuinely innovative. A pack contains 5 portions of dried noodles, 5 packs of beef stock and 5 packs of sesame paste.
Posted on 6/1/2019
Crispy kernels and seeds with various flavours
This is perhaps not really an innovative product, but more like a new version of a classic snack, using modern food processing techniques and ingredients. Chinese girls love these (and many boys too).
You must be Chinese to appreciate a brand name like this for a lunch box of snack foods, including: bullet sausages, cookies, dried vegetarian beef, potato crisps and spicy dried beans, all in one box. Besides the box, I have added a picture of the ‘bullet sausages’. A nice collection of bites to share with friends in a park. You only need to add a couple of drinks.
Posted on 4/1/2019
These meat-based spicy sheets are not really new, but belong to the category of forgotten traditional Chinese foods that are being revived recently, with the use of modern food technology, obviously. They make a great snack, and I can imagine them finding a market in European pubs as well, if someone would like to venture to import this product.
This really is a product of today’s Chinese consumer. Abalone used to be a delicacy only to be savoured a few times a year by the average Chinese. With the increased living standard, they want to have them more often. However, the new Chinese consumer has less time to spend, so here is an instant version, complete with a sauce. You can add it to a bowl of rice or a plate of Italian pasta; in fact, to almost any dish. For RMB 48/4 pieces, the are affordable by all.
Coconut yakult lookalike
My post on formulated dairy beverages introduces how Chinese struggle with the healthy image of milk and its disagreeable taste. This newly launched yakult-like probiotic drink is flavoured with coconut juice.
Puff pastry with everything
The Egg Yoke Puff Pastry is another example of how Chinese food technologists use all their tricks to create modern versions of traditional Chinese foods. The duck egg yolk in the centre is wrapped in several layers, each with its own flavour and texture (crispy, gelatinous, sticky, etc.). Bite it slowly and enjoy these layers one by one.
This snack is apparently received so well, that several companies have launched similar products. I am showing all that are recommended by Chinese influencers, as I have no information about who was the first to get this product on the market. There are subtle differences in marketing strategy. Two of the four brands have a distinct female positioning. Hibake seems to evoke a ‘foreign’ image with English texts on its packaging.
Chinese love colourful foods, you can find plenty of examples in the posts of this blog. The Bread and pastry chain Nestgram is stretching this propensity to the max. For most Europeans, a product like this hardly looks like food at all, and many will be reluctant to savour it. For Chinese, however, this is the ultimate fun food.
Chinese women love crack nuts while chatting. It is probably one of the best ways to keep eating while not gaining weight. You can easily spend 10 to 15 minutes cracking a walnut and digging out all tiny pieces of meat. Loulanmiyu (‘Sweet Dreams from Loulan, an area in Xinjiang) from Wuhan has launched pre-cracked walnuts. You can still enjoy the cracking, but without the aid of a nutcracker. That will save the ladies time and keep their hands clean, but may affect their waste lines.
Zhuyeqing (Bamboo Leaf Green) is one of China’s famous traditional spirits. Jiake Chuanqi is brewing a drink made from bamboo and packing it in a bottle that resembles a chunk of bamboo. The effect is nice, but how about the taste? The original stuff is a rather sweet drink, more like a European after-dinner drink. This drink is much clearer and probably less sweet, following the current vogue for healthier formulations. I’ll let you know as soon as I can buy a bottle during my next China visit.
Instant Hot Pot
Every reader of this blog knows about the central role of instant noodles in the lives of the average Chinese consumer. You may be less familiar about other instant versions of traditional Chinese foods. Quite a number have been launched, but not all with the same success as instant noodles. The latest attempt is Huama brand (Sichuan) instant hot pot (the Chinese version of the European fondue, but water-based). You simply heat the pack, open it and start eating. However, I wonder if this can become a success. Chinese love hot pot because of the communal dipping stuff in the soup. This instant version seems to take that vital element away.
More instant hot pots
After posting the first instant hot pot, I met with two more during my scanning of the Chinese news. I therefore have grouped them here instead of maintaining strict chronological order of discovering. It is beginning to look like a genuine vogue. They all have their typical features. The main ingredient of the third one is niangao (Chinese New Year cake). It is also self-heating.
Hongtai Food (Zhejiang) has launched a ginger-date tea is a simple new product that actually could sell well in Europe. It is a great drink to ward off a cold, or alleviate its symptoms when you already have attracted one.
Jiashili from Guangdong has launched a new type of biscuits. These biscuits should strike Europeans as quite familiar. What is culturally interesting is the name: breakfast biscuits. This is not the first novel food on this page addressing the ongoing breakfast revolution in China.
Chocolate coated sunflower seeds
Mingtai Foods (Chaozhou, Guangdong) is one of the several Chinese producers of this product. It is not an extremely new, but an interesting modernisation of a very traditional Chinese snack. And chocolate is hot in China. Europeans looking at this picture could easily mistake it for an M&M lookalike. A salient detail: the Chinese brand name Chunfu shares the second character with the Chinese translation of Dove (Defu).
Changjianmian – A one-bite Breakfast
Today I am posting one item. It actually is not very new, but has been getting exposure in the national media recently. Changjianmian is a one-bite breakfast, a product suiting the growing segment of young white-collar workers who are not willing to prepare breakfast at home, but instead buy it on their way to the office. The literal meaning of the word is ‘sausage sees flour’, but it sounds like the Chinese expression for ‘Seeing each other often’. So, Changjianmian is a product with one foot in the present and another foot firmly fixed in Chinese culture. Changjianmian is produced by Hongjia Food in Zhengzhou, Henan, the centre of production of modernised versions of traditional Chinese snacks.
Posted on 20/12/2018
Candy Lord mint balls
These mint flavoured balls by Binbin Food (Chaozhou, Guangdong) are marketed as a way to keep your breath fresh, or lift your spirits during overtime. The manufacturer sells them as ‘purely handmade’. I wonder if that is really true. But the do look cute.
Xinle fruit flavoured mints
This is a similar product, also originating from Chaozhou. In China, this is not always a coincidence. Chinese love to imitate what others do well, hence you can easily find producers of similar products in the same town or county. A bonus of this product is that it is sugar free, though by far not ‘clean label’.
Mussels + mushrooms
This combination of mussels and mushrooms from Yiyueyuan Food (Xiamen, Fujian) is more like an ingredient than a finished food, although it can be eaten directly. You can put a few on a bowl of plain rice and instantly make it into a tasty dish. You can stir fry it with about any vegetable to add some protein. I like the combination of animal and vegetable protein.
Posted on 19/12/2018
Better me Water Fried chicken – fewer calories same taste
Dacheng, a site offering low calorie dishes operating under Jingdong, is offering chicken breasts fried in water. From the ad it is obvious that the target segment for this food is women anxious to maintain a slender waist. Unfortunately, while the calories provided by the 50 gr of cucumber are indicated, there is no information about the caloric value of the chicken breast.
Moranca makes you soft at heart
This cream-filled cake by Moranca is called Xinliruan ‘Soft at Heart’. In Chinese, this refers to a nice person, so I presume that the food technologists of Moranca hope for the same effect on whoever eats one of these cakes. The cream is said to have a yoghurt-like taste. This creates a lower-calorie image than sweet cream would have given. The add includes two ears of wheat, a Chinese symbol for nutrition. However, the long list of ingredients for the cake and the filling does not promise a health food.
Posted on 16/12/2018
Three Squirrels – Nuts about cakes
Three Squirrels is China’s most successful snack food brand of this moment, with seeds and nuts as its flagship products. The company’s strategists are constantly keeping their radar open for opportunities to stretch the possibilities of their resources. Their latest products is fruit cake. That is by no means a new product, but it makes sense to believe that the Three Squirrels brand can inspire their existing customers to give these cakes a try.
Qiaqia yam chips – challenging Lay’s and Pringles
This is another brand famous for its melon seeds in various flavours, trying to make a flying start in a new segment, using their brand awareness. Potato chips are getting popular in China and Qiaqia has opted to enter this market with chips from another tuber: the Chinese yam (shanyao). This suits the general nationalist trend in China: those foreigners are trying to sell us their potato chips and we counter that with our own yam chips.
Jiebata – A complete breakfast in a pack
Longsheng Food in Shaoguan, Guangdong, is supplying various enriched sandwiches, marketed as a complete breakfast. Here, I am showing the carrot version. Ingredients include carrots, milk and eggs. The name seems to have been derived from Ciabatta. This product is attempting to cash in on the decreasing unwillingness of Chinese young professionals to prepare their own breakfast,
Posted on 14/12/2018
Master Lei brand hawthorn pudding
Hawthorn is a long-time favourite ingredient for sweets in China. I mentioned the traditional North-China tanghulu, skewers of candied hawthorns in my post on Chinese desserts. Present day food technologists can do a lot more with hawthorns. These ‘puddings’ are stacks of layers of darker and lighter coloured sweetened hawthorn paste. They are moist, with a good sour-sweet balance. They go well with cup of tea, Pu’er or Early Grey, hawthorn has no nationalist preferences.
Dehui brand Red Sugar Cakes
As many novel foods in China, these are positioned as a traditional food, but the ingredients list includes a number of texturisers (monoglycerides, phosphor salts, etc.) and sweeteners (sodium cyclamate) that are far from traditional. They are filled with small chunks of sweetened pork.
Maidehao Brand nougat biscuits
What I prefer to call nougat here is ‘almond snow brittle’ in Chinese, a biscuit sandwiched between layers of nougat. However, it is nougat with more than 9% cranberries and more than 8% almonds, and the inevitable additives like ethyl maltol, sodium bicarbonate, flavours, etc. You pay a price for the perfect combination of flavour and texture. The packaging is also beautifully designed. The text on it says: ‘Love is giving you beautiful romance’. Well, it sounds better when read aloud in Chinese.
Posted on 12/12/2018