Bakery China 2017

China to familiarize Western market with ‘pinyin’ baked treats

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Several Cantonese mooncake manufacturers believe the Western market is ready for the introduction of mooncakes.
Several Cantonese mooncake manufacturers believe the Western market is ready for the introduction of mooncakes.

Related tags Chinese bakery market Baking China

China’s diverse bakery industry – encompassing bakers of traditional ‘pinyin’ (literally translated as ‘Chinese style cakes and snacks’) and producers of modern items like croissants and waffles – is growing at a rate that far exceeds most other segments.

BakeryandSnacks is at Bakery China 2017, held in Shanghai this week, where over 2,000 exhibitors are showcasing products and services for the entire bakery and confectionery value chain.

The country’s bakery sector may still be emerging, but according to Ted Rich, senior VP: customer experience, and second generation shareholder of Rich Products Corporation, of the 115 markets in which the $3.5bn US supplier to the bakery, retail and foodservice sectors have a presence, China is the most dynamic market.

“So much is happening in the Chinese bakery market and its evolving at such a rate that it is currently outstripping all others,”​ Rich told us.

Over the moon

The Cantonese mooncake is a round pastry with a thin crust decorated to depict flowers or the full moon, with a dense, sweet filling like red bean or lotus seed paste. It is traditionally eaten in Southern China in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in September/October each year.

Rich said he believes that, aligned with the world’s growing popularity for more exotic and cross-border tastes, China’s beloved mooncakes are set to take the Western market by storm.

“When we first started shipping products to China in the late 1980s, we brought with us Western insights and trends to help develop the local market,”​ said Rich. “Now, the country is driving many of the trends in the global market, which shows you just how quickly things have progressed.”

Record-breaking attendance

Bakery China, purportedly Asia Pacific’s largest event serving the entire value chain for the bakery and confectionery market covering 183,000m2​, is organized by the China Association of Bakery & Confectionary Industry (CABCO) and Reed Sinopharm Exhibitions (RSE).

This year, the trade show is celebrating its 20th​ anniversary.

“It has grown exponentially in the past two decades,”​ said Christine Jiang, International Sales and Marketing, noting the show attracted a record-breaking 100,000 plus visitors on the first day of trading this year.

Market statistics:

  • According to Mintel, the Chinese bakery and confectionery industry was valued at RMB 738.9bn ($107bn) in 2016, a 8.66% growth over the year prior.
  • Biscuit revenue brought in around RMB197.9bn ($28.66bn) last year – a 9.47% growth on 2016.
  • Pastry accounted for RMB 120.6bn ($17.47bn) of 2016 revenue, a 13,34% growth from the period before.
  • About 10% of the growth is in first-tier cities, while 30% is happening in second and third-tier cities.

Jiang also said, according to pre-registration data, visitors from more than 100 countries are flocking in, with the top 10 buyers coming from Japan, Malaysia, Philippine, Mongolia, the US, South Korea, India, Indonesia and Singapore.

The trade show, comprising baking ingredients, equipment, processing, packaging and a Coffee, Beverages & Fine Food Zone, has also attracted a cosmopolitan exhibitor base of over 2,000 from 30 countries and regions.

International outlook

Exhibitors range from the majors like Rich’s, Buhler China, Dohler, Arla, AB Mauri, Barry Callebaut and Cargill, to smaller local independents.

“It’s become much more international in focus – much as the Chinese bakery market is doing. While it’s still a developing industry that needs improvement, the sector is evolving at a rapid rate.

“Apart from traditional offerings, there is a big surge among local bakers to produced more Western-style products. Allied industries, like those specialising in additives and chemicals for the bakery industry, are also jumping on board,”​ said Jiang.

Uniquely Chinese

Noted features at the show are the extensive array of artfully decorated cakes, from 2m high intricate wedding cakes to delicate yet detailed mini cakes; and the use of natural colours and flavored toppings for assorted breads: green, pink, black artisanal bakes, topped with cheese, nuts, seeds and a sweet but slightly salty pastry ‘floss’.

Fast-moving e-biz sector

As with the overall Chinese retail market, the continent’s bakery industry is moving into e-commerce rapidly, arguably the fastest growing retail channel on the continent. Everyone is doing it and in a big way, so as Ted Rich noted, it’s a case of “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

As such, later this year, CABCO is hosting China Bakery Autumn to develop a shareholder platform to discuss market policies like food health and safety, baking, festivals and obviously, ebusiness.

China Bakery Autumn will be held in conjunction with China Home Baking Show at the Shanghai New International Expo Center from October 25-27.

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