China’s new - and healthier - eating trends

China’s new - and healthier - eating trends

As consumption continues to grow in China, consumers are willing to pay more for foods without undesirable ingredients and are actively seeking all natural, organic foods.

As consumption continues to grow in China, consumers are willing to pay more for foods without undesirable ingredients and are actively seeking all natural, organic foods.

That’s a summary of a recent survey by Nielsen which reveals Chinese consumers are increasingly opting for specialised diets addressing their desire to eat organic, low-fat, low-carb foods or the need to eliminate ingredients based on food sensitivities, allergies or personal convictions.

In a press release, Nielsen said that about 70% of the Chinese respondents in its new Global Health and Ingredient-Sentiment Survey said they follow a diet that limits or prohibits consumption of at least some foods or ingredients, which is higher than that of global average (64%). Furthermore, 82% of them said they would pay more for foods without undesirable ingredients, also much higher than the global average (68%).  

However, consumers’ changing needs are not being fully met yet, since only 40% respondents are satisfied with the current healthy food choices.

Be an ally in the pursuit of wellness

Nielsen Greater China president Yan Xuan said this is a significant opportunity for food retailers and manufacturers but they need to “identify high-potential segments and the drivers of engagement for these consumers and, then tailor their messages and products accordingly.”

Generally speaking, Chinese consumers prefer low fat (35%), low carbohydrate (35%), low sodium (35%) and low sugar foods (23%) .

Consumers wish there were more all natural (67%), organic (55%) and genetically modified organisms free foods (52%) on shelves. The most undesired ingredients are artificial ingredients such as artificial flavors (73%), preservations (73%), colors (71%), sweeteners (58%); antibiotics or hormones in animal products (63%); and genetically modified organisms (57%).

Nielsen said most consumers choose not to purchase foods and drinks with certain ingredients because they believe it is harmful to their health. What’s more, consumers also regard some foods as natural medicines. Approximately 73% percent Chinese respondents said they actively make dietary choices to help prevent health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension.

Transparency is also important - 77% of Chinese consumers feel more positively about companies that are transparent about where and how products were made,raised or grown (vs. 73% globally).

“The consumption upgrade that is taking place in China highlights the growing pursuit of wellness. According to our research, health, safety  and wellness have already become the top attributes that impact consumers’ purchase decisions. Price will no longer be as important as quality and healthiness,”” Xuan said.

Image: by Calvin Teo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1684596