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Chinese consumers crave breakfast cereals

May 1, 2023
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin exporters may find interest in unique, nutritious products.

More people in China are starting their day with a bowl of cereal.

China’s breakfast cereal industry has nearly doubled in recent years, increasing from ¥5.6 billion ($78 million USD) in 2015 to ¥10 billion ($1.4 billion USD) in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.2%.

A growing interest in eating nutritious foods is one of the reasons for cereal’s rising popularity. Particularly in China’s larger cities, middle-class residents are looking for low-calorie breakfast cereals and snack cereal biscuits and breads that offer healthy benefits such as improved metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

While consumption in China is growing, people in the U.S. eat more than twice as much cereal, as a whole, and European Union residents devour about seven times as much.

A significant portion of China’s cereal is imported, amounting to $313 million in 2021.

The top five cereal companies in China make up more than 40% of the market share, and include global corporations such as Quaker and Nestlé. Regional and local cereal manufacturers also play a role, but have less brand awareness.

Products such as granola and those featuring fruits, nuts, and oats are gaining popularity. Some of the big companies are also incorporating flavors tailored to the Chinese palate, according to an article by Global Food Industry News’s JustFood website in 2018. For example, Cereal Partners Worldwide—a collaboration between Nestlé and General Mills—added black sesame and purple yam options to its Nesvita Milk Oatmeal family, while PepsiCo imported a Quaker oatmeal product mixed with Chinese yam and purple rice. Meanwhile, Quaker has been working with the Chinese Nutrition Society since 2016 to educate more Chinese families about the nutritional value of whole grains, parent company PepsiCo says.

Wisconsin companies interested in exporting cereal products to China are encouraged to focus on healthy, diversified products with unique flavors and to connect with qualified, experienced distribution partners in China to help with local marketing and product awareness.

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