CHINA, Beijing. The Chinese animal protein market will continue to be a growth story according to Rabobank, but growth will be driven by value rather than volume. Meat consumption will change in three dimensions, related to where, what, and how meat is consumed. Meat companies have three avenues to success – regionalisation, finding new markets, and adding value/providing a service.
The sheer size of China’s consumer base and its rising middle class seems to suggest that its animal protein market will continue to be a strong one, with many growth opportunities. In reality, China’s animal protein consumption has been volatile over the past two decades, with little evidence of a consistent growth trend. We forecast that, in the coming years, the average animal protein consumption growth will markedly slow down.
Changes in today’s society are having a remarkable impact on Chinese consumer behaviour. A better understanding of the current trends helps to predict what will happen in the coming years. Three changes are most relevant: demographics, trading up or down, and new retail and foodservice channels.
With all of the changes in the consumer market, we see three dimensions of change that will take place in animal protein consumption: where the products are consumed, what product attributes are preferred, and how these products are eaten.
In a massive market like China, a volume-driven strategy is important. However, given the three dimensions of change discussed above, volume-driven companies will run into the threat of their traditional markets shrinking. They need to find new markets through emerging channels that offer more growth. In combination with maintaining market share in the traditional market, animal protein companies need to look into new concepts in retail and foodservice, which increasingly are taking over the preparation of food from consumers.