Chinese market sees biscuit boom

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Biscuits Biscuit China

Biscuit consumption in China has soared in recent years, on the
back of changing consumer lifestyles and a general growth in
disposable incomes, according to a report published by Leatherhead
Food International (LFI).

The nation's biscuit sales have increased by 20.1 per cent in the past five years, making China the third largest market for the product after the US and India. This surge in sales is part of a general market boom that has led to an increase in demand for a variety of products, partly brought on by looser governmental controls on foreign investment and imports and exports, as well as growing levels of employment. According to LFI, the Chinese munched their way through a total of RMB 18.8bn (€1.9bn) worth of biscuits in 2004, or the equivalent of 1.1kg per head. The product was most appealing to women, with 70 per cent of biscuit buyers being female. Consumers showed a preference for sandwich biscuits, chocolate-coated biscuits and specially crafted biscuits, with small pack sizes of 100-200g proving most popular. Sweet biscuits accounted for 60 per cent of the market, with savoury biscuits coming in at 39 per cent. Cereal bars lagged behind, accounting for just 1 per cent of sales. Functional biscuits, such as those enriched with calcium, iron or digestion-aiding ingredients, were particularly popular with children and the elderly. The market for these products is still relatively small, but is showing a 20 per cent year-on-year growth. Speciality biscuits aimed at diabetics are also singled out as a growing sector, with 30 million people suffering from the illness in China. Around 85-90 per cent of food and drink consumed in the country is currently produced locally, according to the report, although this figure is rapidly declining along with an increase in international trade. International food giants are prominent in China's biscuit market. Nabisco, which set up a Chinese holding company in 1995, is market leader, with a 24 per cent share. French company Danone started producing biscuits in Shanghai in 1994 and holds 15 per cent of the market, and United Biscuits, which entered China in 1989, now holds 14 per cent of the market. Other products that have shown fast growth in recent years include sweet yoghurts, chilled deserts, fast food, ice cream and cheese. External links to companies or organisations mentioned in thisstory: Leatherhead Food International

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