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Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and a decline in birth rates, China’s complementary baby food market maintains an upward trend in a slower pace. This can be attributed to the heightened awareness among young parents regarding the importance of nutritional supplementation for babies, leading to the increased demand for complementary baby food. In 2022, the market size was 52.7 billion yuan. It is expected to reach 79.1 billion yuan by 2027, with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.4% from 2022 to 2027.
As consumers are increasingly educated about complementary feeding and proper child nutrition, the penetration rate of complementary baby food in China has been steadily rising. As of 2022, the penetration rate of baby food products in China stood at around 35%. However, this level still lags significantly behind mature markets like the United States, where the penetration rate reached 75.5% in 2020. This indicates a significant potential for further expansion of China’s complementary baby food market.
China’s complementary baby food market exhibits a relatively low concentration with no monopolies. The top 10 players held a share of 45% in 2021. This situation presents opportunities for new entrants to tap into a vast development space in this market.
In terms of brand landscape, international brands have occupied a significant market share, with prominent brands like Heinz, Gerber, and HIPP leading the way. Meanwhile, Chinese brands such as Engnice, Fang Guang, Eastwes, and Beingmate have gradually showcased their strengths by expanding sales channels and implementing effective marketing strategies. Furthermore, driven by the promising market outlook, China’s complementary baby food market is witnessing the emergence of new brands, including international brands Little Freddie and Grandpa's Farm, as well as Chinese brands like Qiantian Manman and Baobao Chanle.
China’s complementary baby food market is expanding through an omni-channel approach, including offline mother and baby stores, supermarkets, and various e-commerce platforms (comprehensive e-commerce, social e-commerce, mother and baby community e-commerce, etc.) Notably, consumers usually discover and explore new baby food products through offline stores, and may transit to e-commerce platforms for repurchase, which is more convenient.
In the e-commerce channels, Tmall and JD.com are the major online platforms for complementary baby food sales. From 2019 to 2022, the two platforms experienced a remarkable CAGR of 26.0% and 33.8% respectively in the sales of complementary baby food. Additionally, the rise in complementary feeding related content on social platforms has propelled social e-commerce. On Douyin, the complementary baby food category witnessed significant GMV growth in 2022, among which the Q4 sales soaring by an impressive 61.8% YoY.
1. Refinement of complementary baby food
To meet the demand for healthier, natural, and high-quality nutrition, complementary baby food market is poised for further advancements to develop products with enhanced nutritional value and natural, organic ingredients. Furthermore, recognizing the diverse feeding requirements during different growth stages, the market will witness a distinct shift towards stage-based offerings, effectively meeting the evolving needs of each growth phase.
2. Innovation in packaging, form, and specifications
Innovative packaging, form, and specifications in complementary baby food can improve convenience, customization, and the overall user experience, which may enhance scientific complementary feeding practices. This creates opportunities for premium pricing.
3. Enhanced channel management
Looking ahead, brand will embrace a comprehensive omni-channel strategy that seamlessly integrates online and offline channels. Furthermore, brands will lay emphasis on establishing an integrated "public domain + private domain" operational framework to attract new traffic and retain existing customers.