3 TRENDS TO LOOK OUT FOR IN CHINA’S SNACK MARKET

Though experiencing a slower growth rate, China’s snack food retail market has been growing steadily in the past years, according to Mintel estimates.

China’s snacking market, while currently fragmented, holds opportunities for brands to stand out. Here, we take a deeper look at what this market has to offer.

Customising by consumer groups

Brands are beginning to target specific consumer groups beyond conventional demographics such as men, women and children. This is in line with Mintel’s Global Food & Drink 2018 Trend ‘Preferential Treatment’ which highlights how an era of personalisation is dawning, due in part to the ease of online and mobile shopping.

An example is Three Squirrels, with its Daily Nut Mix Cube range that targets different groups within the family, including children, mothers and studious teens. The packaging emphasises that the product has been specially developed based on the nutritional needs and usage occasions of the group. For example, the variant for studious teens is said to contain proteins and two kinds of superfruits that trigger the core of the brain.

Three Squirrels’ Daily Nut Mix Cube is made up of six kinds of healthy nuts and two kinds of super fruits, which contain protein and energy.

Playing things up with flavour innovations

Things are about to get more competitive as established players from other categories, particularly traditional sweet producers, embark on extending their brand through product and flavour innovations.

As such, brands need to constantly initiate flavour innovation to stay ahead of the competition. The ongoing race is still on to offer new and pleasantly surprising tastes to stand out against the competition. Exploring different styles of spiciness can be interesting given the popularity of the Sichuan mala (spicy and numbing) flavour. Beyond taste, brands can also look into exploring different or ingredients, especially natural ones like mushrooms.


Oreo, known for its chocolate sandwich cookies, introduced two savoury limited edition flavours, Wasabi and Hot Chicken Wing, in 2018.

Snickers introduced savoury variants and launched a limited edition Spicy Peanut Chocolate Bar variant, in response to Chinese consumers’ love of spicy flavours.

Guzi Guzi introduced its Original Flavoured King Oyster Mushroom Crisps which claim to be made by processing sliced mushrooms at a low temperature to make them crispy and aromatic.

Sustainable and environmentally-friendly

Another way brands can differentiate is to go beyond products to stand for something bigger, such as supporting environmental, animal or humanitarian causes. While the products will always be what’s most important, there are opportunities for brands to better explain how they are responsible and sustainable. From Green Food certification and supporting girls’ education, to humane animal treatment, companies can engage with consumers who have the same values and are aligned with their brand ethos, subsequently building stronger brand loyalty.