Healthy snacking is on the rise, contributing to the growing popularity of nuts and seeds in retail channels. In China’s retail snack market, nuts and seeds is the largest category, with a retail value of US$38.2 billion. The segment is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.7 percent in terms of value between 2015 and 2020, reaching US$ 50.1 billion.
About 40 percent of urban Chinese consumers eat more nuts and seeds today compared to six months ago. The report revealed the rise in popularity of these healthy snacks, 58 percent of consumers said that nuts and seeds taste good and 44 percent said they were convenient to eat. Only a small percentage (9 percent) believed nuts and seeds to be unhealthy.
The launch of new products containing nuts is on the rise in China due to high demand. Nuts accounted for 17.5 percent of new snack products launched between 2014 and 2016, compared to 15.3 percent of those launched globally.
“Companies should consider packing up the traditional nuts and seeds bulk products in favour of branded products that are positioned as a healthy snack. We’re seeing a number of the nuts brands thriving when leveraging this consumer trend,” said Ching Yang, senior food and drink analyst.
The market research also revealed 61 percent of consumers associate a healthy snack as being all-natural, while 42 percent associate it as being fortified with additional nutrients. One third (31 percent) of Chinese consumers associate healthy snacks as high in protein and this demographic leans towards male consumers aged 25-29 (42 percent). Furthermore, 41 percent of Chinese consumers aged 40-49 associate healthy snacks as having low salt content.
“More consumers are switching to fresh fruits and vegetables or dairy-based foods for snacking. This suggests a growing opportunity for food and drinks brands that enjoy a healthy perception (e.g. dietary supplements, cereals and yogurt) to tap into the snacking occasion by developing snack format products,” said Mr Yang.
It was also found that Chinese females are concerned with calories, while Chinese males care about protein. The ‘reduced sodium’ claim is still rarely seen on meat snacks and snack manufacturers could leverage this to meet consumer needs.
Imported snacks are gaining popularity among urban Chinese consumers. More than four in 10 Chinese consumers are interested in buying imported products they have never tried. One third of them have bought snacks from imported food stores, 28 percent have bought at local stores when travelling, and 19 percent have bought from foreign shopping websites.