Ways for Western cereal brands to penetrate the Chinese breakfast space

February 18, 2019
3 min read

Chinese consumers are spending more on breakfast, both in and out of their homes, contributing to an increasingly lucrative breakfast market.

According to Mintel research on breakfast foods, there has been a willingness to increase expenditure on the morning occasion over the last two years. While most consumers still turn to Chinese foods for breakfast, this growth suggests that there may be potential for Western cereals to increase their market share in the country.

Though constrained by the nation’s preference for hot food in the morning, Western breakfast cereals are growing in the buoyant Chinese marketplace. In fact, almost half of Chinese consumers say ‘hot’ is an important breakfast attribute, ranking behind ‘healthy’. With this tradition not easily changed, brands can tap into consumers’ need for nutrition and convenience to overcome their preference for hot breakfast foods.

The value of convenience

Rapid urbanisation in China has increased the pace of life for the working population, and thus the importance of their time, boosting demand for convenient breakfasts.

Mintel research shows that almost half of consumers in China would pay a premium for breakfasts with short preparation time, and roughly a third say they will pay extra for on-the-go formats. This suggests opportunities for cereal brands to increase their presence in convenience stores, and develop convenient formats suitable for easy consumption at home or on-the-go.


Sanchang Assorted Fruit and Nuts Cereal, China

This cereal product is made using three grains including selected Australian oats, three selected dried fruits as well as three types of nuts, and is made for on-the-go purposes.


Liang Shi Ji Oats with Fruit and Nuts, China

This cereal is advertised as an on-the-go snack that can be eaten dry—on its own without milk or yogurt.

Rising demand for nutritious properties

Recent years have seen Chinese consumers shifting their focus away from product safety to nutrition. This has a particular influence on the breakfast occasion due to the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Chinese consumers are willing to pay more for nutritionally-balanced breakfast foods, indicating that Western cereal brands should look to justify added value when competing with local brands.

Over a third of Chinese consumers say that they will look at the vitamin content of food labels. In fact, many manufacturers have already started to communicate nutritional credentials on-pack, or are incorporating dried Western fruit or traditional medicinal ingredients for a nutritional boost.


Kellogg’s Cereal With Assorted Fruit
This cereal contains five types of fruit and is said to be high in vitamin B1, B2 and E.


Nestlé Purple Potato, Red Bean and Milk Flavoured Oatmeal

Nestlé relies on traditional Chinese ingredients to boost nutritional content. For example, this is a vitamin-rich oatmeal made with red bean and purple potato.

Honorata Jarocka
Honorata Jarocka

As a Senior Food & Drink Analyst, Honorata delivers actionable insight on food and drink trends and innovation, with a particular interest in health and wellness.

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