China / Society

Spending patterns show shift to healthy lives

By Yang Wanli (China Daily) Updated: 2016-08-22 07:46

While growth in the value of fast-moving consumer goods in China hit a five-year low of 3.5 percent last year, the pattern in the healthier categories - such as yogurt and energy drinks - has been encouraging.

China is experiencing a transition to a healthier way of living, said Ma Guansheng, a nutritionist at Peking University's School of Public Health.

"In the 1950s or 1960s, people were satisfied with filling their empty stomach. But now the growth of income allows them to pay more attention to living longer and healthier," he said.

A recent report by Bain & Company and Kantar Worldpanel tracked trends in the sales of packaged foods, beverages, personal care items and household goods, which together account for 80 percent of sales of fast-moving consumer goods - low-cost items that are frequently replaced.

It showed that products that traditionally cater to blue-collar workers were hardest hit, with sales of instant noodles dropping by 12.5 percent and beer by 3.6 percent.

A decline was seen in the sales of cake, candy and ice cream - more than 11 percent in value last year.

"As we track the shopping behavior of Chinese consumers, we see the distinct effect that major economic shifts are having on consumption patterns," said Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China.

The rise of the service sector - with improvements in pay - has helped boost brand growth in premium categories. For example, sales of yogurt grew by 20.6 percent and energy drinks increased by 6 percent in 2015 from the previous year.

Meanwhile, sales of water purifiers also soared by 50 percent from 2011 to 2015, the report said.

China's changing economy is altering people's daily lives and influencing their attitudes about consumption.

Liu Yilin, a 59-year-old retired schoolteacher in Beijing, is now responsible for preparing three meals for her family of four. In the past five years, the family diet has changed a lot.

Since 2012, Liu has been taking free health maintenance classes. The amount of fat, sugar, oil and salt in the family's daily meals are all under control. Health awareness has brought on new spending patterns.

"Our family budget now goes to milk, yogurt and sports equipment," she said.

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