It said that China’s animal protein consumption has been volatile over the past two decades, with little evidence of a consistent growth trend.
While the size of China’s consumer base and its rising middle class has suggested that its animal protein market will continue to be a strong, changes in society are affecting consumer behaviour.
It said that this is due to three main changes in demographics, trading up or down and new retail and foodservice channels.
Volume-driven companies will run into the threat of their traditional markets shrinking, argues Rabobank.
They will need to find new markets through emerging channels that offer more growth. This will include looking into new concepts in retail and foodservice, which increasingly are taking over the preparation of food from consumers.
However, according to the analysts changes in China’s consumer market can provide opportunities for developing a value-driven strategy.
Rabobank said it believed that traditional products – such as frozen meat, hot (just slaughtered) fresh meat, and cooked meat products sold in traditional agriculture markets, will see a decline. It predicts a growth in branded chilled meats in small packages, meat-based snack food, freshly cooked convenience food, and meal kits.
This is due to new consumer values of convenience, food safety, freshness, variety, and service.
It said that frozen convenience food and Chinese-style/western-style meat products may need to broaden their marketing focus, away from tier-one and tier-two cities to lower-tier cities and rural areas.
“While China’s population is expected to peak soon, the demographic dividend will continue to drive value growth in the meat market,” according to senior animal protein analyst Chenjun Pan.
“To capitalise, meat companies need a regionalisation strategy. They will see greater growth opportunities by expanding into ‘new tier-one’ cities and surrounding areas, where the population is younger.”