Due to rising health awareness and worldwide trends, Chinese citizens of all ages have become aware of the importance of a nutritious diet and a healthy lifestyle in general. Because of this heightened awareness, the demand for health foods has experienced considerable market growth in the past few years.
In 2022, the functional food market in China reached 208 billion RMB. Although the market is still underdeveloped, it is expected that as China’s population ages, the need for functional foods and nutritional supplements will be even higher. And so will the opportunities for businesses in the health food industry.
Overview of the functional foods market in China
The Chinese functional foods market was projected to be worth a staggering 208 billion yuan in 2022. This demonstrates that the sector is growing at an impressive rate.
According to Statista, in the next five years, China’s functional foods market is projected to swell significantly with a 30% growth compared to 2020, reaching an estimated 244 billion yuan by 2025. This steady and impressive expansion will only continue as demand for functional food and dietary supplements is increasing.
In 2005, the Chinese government set forth its definition of functional food, or health foods in general, as something that provides functional benefits or supplies essential vitamins and minerals. It wasn’t long after this declaration was made that the market for these types of products began to rapidly expand on an international level.
Just in 2020, Chinese authorities recorded a record-breaking 715 health food registration forms filled for different health food products.
What are considered functional foods in China?
In China, health food is a fusion of food and medicine. That is why food brands in China’s health food industry are consequently employing an “additive” methodology to their base goods by infusing them with extra nutrition.
Some examples from the latest functional food trends:
- Protein-fortified coffees
- Fruity beers with collagen
- Fiber-added soft drinks
- Juices with turmeric and ginger
- Western superfoods like chia seeds
- Health bars made with Chinese goji berries
The most popular functional food products in China are those that contain certain ingredients that claim to have specific health functions. This includes proteins, fibers, essential vitamins, and minerals. Also some other plant-based compounds such as phytosterols.
Other popular functional foods include dairy products and functional beverages with probiotics added to them. Fortified cereals containing omega-3 fatty acids and other raw materials are on the rise. Organic meals, snacks, fortified milk, and health supplements in the form of tablets or capsules are popular as well.
What is driving the rapid growth of China’s functional foods market?
1. With growing awareness of health and wellness practices, Chinese people are making an effort to lead healthy lives. This includes everything from:
- Incorporating supplements and functional food into their diets
- Engaging in physical activity like sports
- Investing money into beauty services and cosmetics that enhance their overall well-being
2. Since ancient times, the Chinese people have been drawn to foods that nourish both body and mind. They deeply value ingredients that offer health benefits. It is a tradition that has endured throughout time.
3. The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the importance of conscious eating habits, encouraging people to make healthier food choices.
4. As Chinese youth drives the trend, they are increasingly plagued by a myriad of health issues. This includes insomnia, anxiety, dermatological ailments, overweight/obesity, and beyond. Those health conditions make them look for dietary supplements and such products that will help them cope with those daily life problems.
5. The Chinese government is actively combatting the country’s aging population by putting forth policies that encourage healthy living and well-being.
What are the major local and global functional food companies in China?
Leading local companies in the functional food market in China include CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings, Shanghai Haibo Biotech Co., Ltd., and Yili Group.
Global companies such as Nestle, Danone Kraft Heinz Company, and Unilever have also had a strong foothold in the Chinese functional food market, with a significant presence in the growing health supplement industry.
How to promote and sell products in China’s health food industry?
The most important thing to do before entering the Chinese functional food market is to understand your audience. What are the age groups that will be interested in supplementing vitamins and functional food, how do they shop, what do they look for in a brand, and so on.
Make sure you meet regulatory standards
The Chinese Government has stringent regulations on the manufacture, marketing, and sale of functional food. It is important to meet these regulatory requirements to successfully enter the health foods market. Make sure to create a comprehensive compliance strategy. Also, obtain the necessary certifications before launching your product.
Securing registration from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine management is imperative for every business. Furthermore, securing a pre-import license along with trademark registration must be taken care of as well to complete the process.
However, understanding all these steps can be overwhelming for overseas companies – that’s why we are here to offer our knowledge and assist you in completing it effortlessly.
Set up a Chinese website and take care of good Baidu SEO
China is a large market, and having an online presence there is crucial. An official website in Chinese with SEO-optimized content will help the product spread awareness to the target audience. Additionally, Baidu SEO services can help gain more visibility for your product.
We offer all kinds of Baidu SEO services along with comprehensive Chinese website development. Making sure that the product meets all marketing needs in China.
Market your products on Chinese social media platforms (with the help of Chinese influencers)
Chinese customers are highly active on social media platforms such as Weibo, Douyin, and WeChat. Creating accounts for your brand and teaming up with influencers can be incredibly helpful in terms of increasing brand awareness among the target audience of health food.
Additionally, it also allows companies to interact with their potential customers, build relationships and promote their products. Chinese consumers value personal relationships and often prioritize buying from people or companies that they know and bond with.
Sell your products on Chinese e-commerce platforms
China is the largest e-commerce market in the world. To reach out to Chinese customers, launching your health food products on these platforms is an absolute must. Tmall and JD are two major players dominating the Chinese market. They offer immense potential for sellers to create their stores and start selling their functional food products online. These platforms are used by a large number of customers. And thus offer great opportunities for companies to directly sell their products to Chinese consumers.
Tailor your products for Chinese consumers
Unlocking success in the functional foods sector of China requires specificity when creating products for Chinese consumers. For instance, merging Western superfoods with traditional Chinese herbs to concoct a unique product or blending popular Western aromas into traditionally tasty Chinese dishes can help your brand stand out from competitors and gather more attention from potential customers.
As we stated earlier, you need to understand the reasons for a growing interest in the health food market. What are the needs of your audience? For example, Lemonbox company noticed that there is a lack of professional guidance and help. Health food and dietary supplements are still a niche, and Chinese people often lack knowledge of which functional beverages, fortified foods or health supplements should they buy.
To meet customers’ needs, Lemonbox came up with a personal formulary available on WeChat, where a potential consumer goes through a short interview, after which the company offers some suitable supplements and functional ingredients, that can be later purchased within the platform or on Tmall.
To sum up on functional and healthy food market
In conclusion, the functional foods market in China offers immense opportunities for companies hoping to tap into this lucrative sector. With the right strategies and techniques in place, any company can make a successful foray into the China market.
By utilizing e-commerce platforms, tailoring products for Chinese consumers, and leveraging digital marketing tactics, companies can better position their offerings and take advantage of the immense potential this market offers. With the right combination of strategy, product innovation, and marketing savvy, companies can make a splash in the functional foods market in China.
We can help you enter China’s functional foods market!
China’s functional foods market is still rather new in untapped, but many foreign companies are entering the market. Chinese consumers are becoming very picky, waiting to be surprised with unique consumer experiences. Therefore, it’s best to work with professionals, to have a good marketing strategy in the plan.
We are a China digital agency with more than 10 years of experience in the Chinese market. We worked with over 600 brands from different industries, offering tailor-made solutions suitable for each particular brand.
If you are willing to unlock the potential of your functional food products in China by learning how to craft a successful sales strategy, we are your answer. We can help you utilize key insights and tactics to help make your product stand out from the competition.
Here are some of our health supplements case studies
We will help you maximize your brand’s potential with Chinese customers. Leave us a comment or contact us today, to schedule a free discovery call with our health specialist Alexis, who will learn about your brand and present you best solutions for the Chinese market. Let’s keep in touch!