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)

Dairy

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)

DilanYoghurtIce.png

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)

Ruipuen

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)

PriclklyPear

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.

Bacchus

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)

ArrowrootWine

Ingredients

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)

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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Crab Roe Flavoured Seed Kernels – a fine example of Chinese food engineering

While celebrating Chinese New Year where it should be celebrated: in China, a saw a friend nibbling on a product that I had never seen before. As a Chinese food blogger, I had to taste it and study the packaging. The list of ingredients was impressive.

Crab Roe Flavoured Seed Kernels (fried type)

Anhui Zhanshi Food Co., Ltd.

Ingredients: sun flower seed kernels, vegetable oil, glutinous rice powder, corn starch, modified starch, salt, crystal sugar, crab roe seasoning (glucose, shrimp powder, squid powder, crab roe powder, soy sauce powder, MSG, dextrin, yeast extract, spices), food additives: ammonium bicarbonate, citric acid, tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), aspartame, disodium 5’-ribonucleotide, food flavour

Nutrition information

Energy

2120 kj

Protein

13.6 g

Fat

29.1 g

Carbohydrates

46.7

Sodium

860 mg

IMG_20150219_102750

This blog combines a number of story lines. Chinese food and culture is obvious a leading theme. Frequently recurring themes include: adapting traditional Chinese foods and beverage to the age of modern mass production and consumption, novel foods Chinese style, fusion foods and drinks combining Chinese and Western concepts.

If we compare these story lines with warps in weaving, than the wefts are a number of technical issues related to those topics. A major weft is the use of additives to reach the goals of the food technologists. To adapt the recipe of a traditional food for economic scale industrial production, additives are often needed to retain the traditional flavour, colour and texture of the food. This is obviously not a typically Chinese problem, but it appears to be more prominent in China.

Chinese are demanding consumers when it comes to traditional foods. Where many Westerners would settle for a generic sandwich to still an upcoming pang of hunger while on the run to an appointment or waiting for our plane at the gate of the airport, Chinese would prefer a steaming bowl of noodles, spiced to perfection, with condiments, succulent chunks of meat, and topped with a pinch of chopped spring onions. Who is going to cook that for you? Just try to imagine one of those noodle vendors that you can see on almost any Chinese street corner setting up shop in an airport!

So this is why Chinese supermarkets have such an astonishing number of different types of instant noodles on their shelves. You open a pack, place the dried noodles in a bowl, tear open the bag with dry seasoning and poor it over the noodles, open the additional pack with wet seasoning past, dried beef, or dehydrated vegetables and add it all to the noodles. Then infuse it with boiling water and let it all soak for a few minutes. Now you are ready to eat. And yes, this cannot compare with the noodles you regular get from Boss Wang who runs a mobile noodle cookery near the subway station, but it is better than a bland cold sandwich.

Modern instant noodles are gems of modern-day Chinese food engineering. No time or effort, or ingredient, is spared to re-create the experience of road side noodles.

These same drivers motivate Chinese food technologists in inventing new traditional foods like the product that has lent its name to the title of this post.

Chinese love to nibble on seeds. Melon seeds, sunflower seeds, pine seeds, all kinds of nuts, form an important subgroup of the typical Chinese food category of leisure food, that has been the topic of an earlier post in this blog.

EatingMelonSeeds

The seeds are often flavoured to give the product of a certain manufacturer a less generic touch. So you can buy ‘cream flavoured melon seeds’, or ‘garlic flavoured peanuts’.

The product I want to introduce here, however, has taken the process of creating a unique nibbling experience to a new level.

The main raw material are the kernels sunflower seeds. The hulls have been removed by the manufacturer. Actually, Chinese like to do that themselves using their teeth, but in this case it would be hard to add the flavoured coating to the hulls, so the manufacturer has taken the risk of invoking criticism and removed the hulls in the plant. Indeed, the Chinese friend who showed me this product was a little disappointed that she had been deprived of the pleasure of chewing on a seed and spit out the hull.

The kernels are fried in vegetable oil. The manufacturer does not specify the type of oil used.

Most of the other ingredients are used for the crab flavoured coating. We see a number of flours and starches for the coating material. The follows a list of ingredient in the compound ‘crab roe seasoning’. The term that I translate here with ‘crab roe’ is xiehuang, which refers to all edible parts of the crab other than the meat. Interestingly, shrimp and squid powder are apparently needed to enhance the flavour of the crab, like lemon juice can intensify the flavour of strawberries. A whole army of taste enhancers is called upon to make the crab flavour even more prominent. Most of these are well known. Soy sauce powder is typically Chinese product that is obtained by spicing up and drying soy sauce.

The way to indicate the ingredients of the compound ‘crab roe seasoning’ using brackets is part of the labelling regulations. It is likely that Zhanshi Food is buying the compound from a flavour company, so not blending it in house. The flavour houses are such a major group of food ingredients in China, that the annual Food Ingredients China (FIC) trade fair has set up a dedicated hall for flavour suppliers.

The single food additives are indicate by the word ‘food additives’ followed by a colon and the list of additives. This shows, e.g., that glutinous rice powder is an ingredient, but not recognised as an additive.

The use of TBHQ as an antioxidant is interesting, because it has not been very popular in China lately.

So, what is the final verdict about the total eating experience of these seeds? They are tiny morsels of coated kernels. You take out a few, put them in your mouth and chew on them. They are definitely crunchy and have a distinct seafood flavour, although I would probably not have been able guess that it was ‘crab’ without seeing the pack. The small pack is finished quickly, especially because the hulls have already been removed.

Perhaps it could be served by airlines to accompany the pre-dinner drinks. My KLM has been serving almonds for as long as I can remember, so this could be an interesting alternative. However, the ingredients list of these kernels is considerably longer than that of KLM’s almonds. The question is do we want stuff like TBHQ or nucleotides to accompany our drink, regarding how low the dosage rate? I will leave the answer to my readers.

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.