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The Perception of Health in China

September 2012

By Sharon Li , Beijing,Shanghai

The dramatic changes in Chinese eating and drinking habits over the past seven years have been mind-blowing. Locals in busy cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, used to pay 3 CNY (US$ 0.48) for a fried egg roll and a cup of fresh soy milk on the go before commuting home. Since the boom of western chain restaurants, ranging from KFC to Starbucks, a middle-class Chinese person might pay up to 8 CNY (US$ 1.26) for breakfast, or 32 CNY (US$ 5) on occasion for a latte. 

Today, one sees more Chinese people eating in western food chains than in a local dumpling joint. Thanks to the wave of western fast food chains, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 30 percent of Chinese adults are now overweight.

There is a recent counter wave to the fast-food trend, however. Mass-market brands have launched options that are marketed as healthy. Pepsico China launched new, healthy-sounding flavors of potato chips like cool cucumber and lemon tea. Coca Cola also spotted the health trend after witnessing the huge success of Nutri-Express, a milk-based fruit juice beverage introduced by its competitor, Wahaha. MinuteMaid China quickly jump aboard the trend, launching a series of similar fusion beverages called “Pulpy Super Milky," which is mainly targeted at young adults and people from lower-tier cities.

In the alcohol business, there is also a huge demand for red wine– especially among the wealthy Chinese from the North. With greater affluence and health awareness, Chinese are increasingly interested in drinking better than drinking more. The market is seeking alternatives to Bai Jiu (strong, white Chinese spirits) with more consumption on Chinese or foreign red wine. In all; however, it’s a game of marketing perception to make consumers feel less guilty when they consume. If it's real health you're looking for, read the labels!

Retail & Dining
Liquor, Beer & Wine
Health & Fitness
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