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Yili climbs up the rankings of food brands

By Wang Mingjie in London | | Updated: 2018-06-27 00:36
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Chinese dairy brand Yili has jumped five places to third in a new report that ranks the world’s top 50 food brands.

Brand Finance, a London-based valuation consultancy, released its latest 2018 Food and Drink report on Tuesday.

Yili is the only Chinese brand in the top 10 global list, moving up from eighth spot in 2017, following a 43 percent growth to $6.2 billion in brand value. Yili’s powerful performance aligns with the robust growth of the overall dairy sector that registered an average 13 percent brand value growth year on year, in comparison to the 4 percent for the table as a whole.

Within the sector, the Chinese market is the most dynamic in the world and is set to overtake the US as the largest market for dairy products by 2022.

“This phenomenon is due to the rising affluence and improved accessibility of products in China’s lower-tier cities,” said David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance. “Chinese consumers increasingly prefer more premium dairy products, with health benefits and innovative flavors, so leading brands such as Yili focus on the changing demand and product innovation.”

Having built up scale domestically, Haigh believes Yili now has the opportunity to win the global recognition it deserves and sees the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative as a chance to market Chinese brands across Asia.

“Once familiar with the brand, customers will make their own choice as, increasingly, Chinese exports compete with international brands not just on price but also on quality and other brand attributes,” he added.

Also noteworthy is the performance of Mengniu, another Chinese dairy brand growing at a similar pace as Yili. It is up 45 percent year on year, but from a lower base, with its brand value now established at $3.4 billion.

Mengniu, the Inner Mongolia-based company, is currently a second-tier sponsor at the 2018 Russia World Cup, giving it the right to broadcast a commercial during each of the 64 soccer matches.

Haigh said: “Sport is the mutually intelligible language for people of all nationalities and backgrounds. Therefore, sponsorship of sports clubs and international events can be extremely beneficial in assisting a market entry or simply raising a brand’s international profile.

“Chinese dairy brands clearly recognize the importance of such a strategy, with Mengniu supporting this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia and Yili signing as the official sponsor of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, having already served in this role during the 2008 Games,” he said.

However, Haigh warns that brands need to carefully choose partnerships depending on their goals and audiences, to differentiate themselves in the market and make sure they get the return on investment they seek.

Coca-Cola maintained the top position in the overall food and soft drink brand rankings, valued at $30.4 billion, while Nestle remains the top food brand, valued at $19.4 billion.

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