Monthly Digest: China Food Sector Review | Jun 2024
BY Rita BaoJul 05, 2024


  • Market Condition

  • Company Dynamics

  • Regulatory Compliance

Market Overview

1. released 2024 China Cross-border E-commerce Import Consumption Trends White Paper. According to the white paper, the CBEC market in China grew from 444.1 billion yuan in 2018 to 548.3 billion yuan in 2023. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of CBEC users in China was nearly 20% from 2017 to 2023, reaching 188 million users in 2023. The leading categories in imported goods were beauty and skincare, personal care, health supplements, mother and baby products, and food and beverages. For health supplements, younger consumers preferred snack-like products, while the elderly focused on bone and joint health, making health maintenance a daily routine. In the mother and baby category, scientific parenting became the norm, with a focus on high-end infant formula emphasizing professionalism and low allergenicity. For food and beverages, new products were the main driver of growth, with consumers paying more attention to ingredients, taste, health, and convenience.


2. From January to May 2024, China imported 1.095 million tons of dairy products, a decrease of 15% YoY, with an import value of $4.505 billion, down 24.6% YoY. Among these, bulk milk powder imports amounted to 333,000 tons, down 17.8% YoY, and infant formula imports were 77,700 tons, down 39.1% YoY. Cheese imports rose slightly by 1.5%, reaching 72,200 tons.

3. According to Nielsen IQ, in the first quarter of 2024, sales of infant cow milk formula across all channels declined by 7.4% YoY, while goat milk formula sales saw a slight increase. Declines in offline channels offset increases in e-commerce channels.

4. Dairy farms are diversifying to cope with surplus raw milk and low out-of-contract milk prices. Strategies include: selling branded products directly through fresh e-commerce platforms or customizing products for fresh e-commerce platforms; supplying bulk fresh milk to supermarkets, convenience stores, bakeries, and fresh milk bars; transforming into a "dairy + tourism" mode to attract local residents and establish home delivery channels.

dairy farms are diversifying to cope with surplus raw milk and low out-of-contract milk prices

5. Ice cup products have become popular on Chinese social media with consumers sharing their DIY experiences in coffee, beverages, and cocktails. Some brands have introduced products with diversified flavors such as fruit flavor and scented tea flavor, along with innovative packaging designs, enhancing the appeal for DIY and social media sharing.

beverage DIY on Chinese social media

Company Dynamics

1. Dove and Doublemint, both under Mars, have collaborated to launch mint-flavored chocolate ice cream. Dove and Doublemint, both under Mars, have collaborated to launch mint-flavored chocolate ice cream. This product combines Dove's classic chocolate flavor with Doublemint's proprietary mint formula, providing a refreshing mint taste. As well-known brands in China, the collaboration between Dove and Doublemint maximizes market resources and brand influence. As reported, Mars China plans to further innovate by collaborating with traditional food brands, emerging designers, and local specialty brands to introduce more creative products.

mint-flavored chocolate ice cream

2. New Zealand kiwifruit company Zespri has announced plans to supply 193,000 tons of kiwifruit to the Chinese market in 2024, marking a 40% increase from last year. China is Zespri's primary market, accounting for 27% of its global supply. Zespri aims to double its sales in China and expand its business to 88 cities within the next five years.

3. Nongfu Spring has relaunched its tomato mixed vegetable and fruit juice with an upgraded concentration of 100%. This new product features enhanced ingredients, a fresher taste, and healthier attributes. In recent years, tomato-based vegetable juices have gained popularity. Established beverage companies like Nongfu Spring and Uni-President, along with emerging enterprises, are entering this market segment to explore new growth opportunities.

Nongfu spring mixed vegetable and fruit juice

4. Luckin Coffee signed a memorandum of cooperation with the ApexBrasil and a procurement intent agreement with partners. According to relevant terms, from 2024 to 2025, Luckin plans to purchase approximately 120,000 tons of coffee beans from Brazil, valued at around $500 million. Previously, Luckin had a three-year plan to purchase 45,000 tons of coffee beans from Brazil since 2022.

Luckin Coffee signed a memorandum of cooperation with the ApexBrasil

5. Milkground has announced its plan to acquire Mengniu Cheese, a subsidiary of its controlling shareholder Mengniu Dairy, with 448 million yuan in cash. This strategic acquisition aims to resolve competitive conflicts between Milkground and Mengniu Cheese, boost Milkground's market competitiveness, and reinforce its leadership in the cheese sector.

6. Changyi 100%, a lactobacillus drink brand under Yili, has launched a non-alcoholic beverage called Changyi 100% Milk Beer. This product serves as a healthy alternative to alcoholic drinks, featuring 0% fat and added with Yili's proprietary probiotic strain K56 for enhanced health benefits. The main target consumers are 18-30-year-olds in first- and second-tier cities. The product will be available through traditional retail channels, catering services, convenience stores, and campuses.

Changyi 100% Milk Beer

7. Mengniu has partnered with DK International, the supply chain subsidiary of freshly-made tea beverage giant Mixue, reaching a preliminary agreement on supply chain enhancement, product development, brand building, and market expansion. This partnership allows Mengniu to enter the freshly-made tea beverage market and effectively manage surplus raw milk capacity.

8. Chi Forest has launched a new purified water product priced at 46.45 yuan for a pack of 24 bottles (520mL each). The water is sourced from Zhaoqing, Guangdong, where Chi Forest's South China factory is located, and processed with nano-filtration technology. This is Chi Forest's third entry into the packaged water market following its previous attempts with "UCON" mineral water and "Forest Water" peach-flavored natural water.

Chi Forest new purified water

9. Functional food brand ffit8 has introduced two new products: Nougat Protein Bars and Protein Nougat. These products feature Angel Yeast's innovative yeast protein, derived from natural brewing yeast. This protein can be continuously cultivated in fermenters, offering a more efficient and sustainable protein source.

ffit8 nougat protein bars

10. Mingming Group, a discount snack chain, has surpassed 10,000 stores, becoming the first in the snack chain industry to reach this milestone. Unlike traditional retail channels, discount snack stores achieve low prices by streamlining the supply chain and cutting operational costs. Leveraging a wide variety of products, high cost-effectiveness, and an efficient supply chain, Mingming Group has rapidly expanded in the discount snack chain industry.

Regulatory Compliance

1. On June 27, 2024, National Health Commission (NHC) announced to seek public comments on 14 national food safety standards. These include four product standards, five food additive standards, three operation and hygiene criteria, one testing standard, and notably, the GB 7718 General Standard for the Labeling of Prepackaged Foods. More information on ChemLinked.

2. On June 28, 2024, State Administration for Market Supervision (SAMR) released the consultation draft of Administrative Measures for Supervision of Food Labeling. The draft is designed to regulate the labeling practices of food manufacturers and operators, and ensure the clarity of food labels for consumers. The Measures and GB 7718 will work in coordination with each other to effectively manage food labeling. More information on ChemLinked.

 Disclaimer: All images used in the article are from the Internet. 

Rita Bao
ChemLinked Regulatory Analyst
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