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Top Snacking Trends in China

China’s fast-growing snack food market is creating exciting opportunities for manufacturers. Explore the top snacking trends in China—including consumers’ favorite product attributes and growing interest in healthy snacking.

Overview of Chinese Snack Food Market

China’s retail snack food market is forecast to reach $89.9 billion by 2023, up from $72.6 billion in 2019.1 This 5.5% CAGR exceeds the global retail snack market’s forecast CAGR of 3.9%, giving China a 44.1% share of the global market.2 China’s top selling snack categories are snack nuts, confectionary, small cakes/pies, ice cream, and biscuits (cookies)/crackers.4

Top Three Snacking Trends in China

For manufacturers looking to tap into China’s expanding snack food market, it’s important to understand what’s appealing to Chinese consumers right now. Here’s a look at three key trends in Chinese snacking:

1. Snack Cravings

In looking into what’s driving Chinese consumers to reach for snacks, Mintel found the top reason is to satisfy a craving, at 77%.5 This comes in ahead of reasons such as to satisfy hunger (59%), to refuel when exercising (57%), and to get additional nutrition (53%).6 For Chinese consumers ages 18 to 24, the percentage who eat snacks to satisfy a craving jumps to 82%.7 Snacks must appeal to consumers’ cravings, whether through sweet or salty craveable flavors or engaging textures.

2. Crunchy Textures

Texture preferences are known for varying widely based on culture and geography. In China, consumers are craving crunchy and crispy snacks. According to Mintel's research, most Chinese consumers (59%) think a crispy texture is ideal for biscuits/crackers.8 In addition, wafer biscuits (with their unique crispy texture) are becoming more popular, with 26% of Chinese consumers eating more wafer biscuits now than six months ago.9

3. Health-Focused

Healthy snacking is also on the rise, particularly due to concerns around COVID. FMCG Gurus reports that 91% of Chinese consumers plan to make greater efforts to eat and drink more healthily due to COVID.10 Furthermore, 59% will continue to seek out fortified/functional foods and beverages with added ingredients like protein, vitamins, or probiotics, and 44% plan to increase protein intake.11 The focus on protein can also help support healthy exercise habits, particularly since 70% of Chinese consumers plan to continue exercising more after COVID.12

man working out outside

Preferences in Protein-Fortified Snacks

The growing interest in protein is one of the most important healthy snack trends globally. In China, FMCG Gurus probed to understand which types of products consumers most want to see with high protein claims. 73% of consumers want high protein options in yogurt, followed by 68% for biscuits, 62% for drinking yogurt, and 57% for chocolate/confectionary.13 

While the interest in protein snacks is strong, 59% of Chinese consumers believe high protein snack products currently in the market have too many additives, and only 35% are satisfied with the taste.14 This reveals some key opportunities for innovation in China’s healthy snacks market to develop delicious, craveable, clean label protein snacks, especially protein yogurts, biscuits, and indulgent treats.

Key Takeaways for Manufacturers

To satisfy China’s snacking consumers, adding healthy ingredients—for example, through protein, vitamin, and mineral fortification—will give consumers a better-for-you option that they can feel good about. This can help address health concerns of not only active consumers but also families with children. 

Communicating unique product benefits is also essential, whether it’s added nutrients, clean label ingredients, or appealing sensory attributes. In addition, social attributes can be conveyed to position snacks as premium. This strategy for differentiation can help win brand loyalty among Chinese consumers.

mom and son drinking milk

Snacks That Satisfy

As a leading dairy based protein ingredient supplier and with unmatched experience in the formulation of custom premixes to meet a host of nutritional needs, Glanbia Nutritionals offers in-demand nutritional ingredients and services that can support China’s growing healthy snacks market. Our innovative ingredients include Provon CFM® Whey Protein Isolate, a clean label, filtered whey protein isolate that’s virtually lactose-free, as well as vitamin and mineral premix options to meet every need.

Contact us to learn more about our protein and premix solutions to create snacks that satisfy!

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References

1-2. Mintel Market Sizes, December 2020.
3. Mintel, The Future of Salty Snacks: 2020 January 2020.
4. Mintel Market Sizes, December 2020.
5-7. Mintel Consumer Snacking Trends, China, January 2020.
8-9. Mintel, Biscuits, Crackers and Cookies, China, February 2019.
10-12. FMCG Gurus, China COVID-19 Survey, July 2020.
13. FMCG Gurus: Active Nutrition ‘How to Get it Right,’ February 2020.
14. FMCG Gurus, Sports Nutrition Survey, March 2020.

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