What are the factors driving food and beverage industry recruitment in China?

It’ll probably come as no surprise to learn that with a population as large as that of China, the country’s food and beverage industry is huge and plays a significant role in its economy. Up until 2011 the United States was the biggest global market for food and beverage products, however China now has the largest consumer market. A rapidly increasing middle class who have more purchase power than ever, combined with closer scrutiny of food quality and safety, are recognised as being the main factors which drive food and beverage industry recruitment in China. In this article we’ll take a look at the industry’s main segments in China, whilst also considering what the outlook might be for the country’s food and beverage market.

The trends driving the growth of China’s food and beverage market

As food and beverage industry recruitment consultants in China, it’s very important for us to keep track of the trends which drive the sector’s growth. The first trend which we’ll consider is connectivity. China’s retail is digitised like no other on the planet; boasting highly developed and world-leading e-commerce.

Most sales transactions in China include at least one digital touch point (social media reviews and online searches included). This means that food producers and retailers must ensure digital engagement with customers during every stage of the purchase path as failure to do this means losing sales. Furthermore, at China’s bricks and mortar food stores, increasing numbers of food retail and service businesses will now only accept payments made using facial recognition technology or QR code.

So what does digitisation mean for China’s food and beverage industry? The Chinese food retail sector is developing at the same rapid rate as digitisation The expectation and ability to obtain products from across the world is increasing and being driven by the latest generation of consumers. As such, innovative food technology, experiences and ‘Insta-worthy’ foods are a big attraction for young consumers.

Furthermore, alongside e-commerce, retailers who were once wedded to the online retail sector are now developing a physical store footprint. The thinking behind the trend for physical stores is not to encourage in-store spending, but rather to ensure that local distribution centres are able to offer the freshest products, delivered with speed. Chinese consumers have long been ready and willing to try the latest digital innovations. This is one of the main reasons why the country’s retail sector is as unique as it is, and why food and beverage recruitment consultants in China are likely to continue to see demand in segments such as agri-tech, logistics and supply chain management, manufacturing, research and development, innovation and more.

Milking the dairy market in China

Although the consumption of dairy products in China remains relatively low per capita, the country’s dairy market has grown to become the biggest and fastest growing on the planet. Since 2000, the average consumption of milk in China has grown ten-fold, whilst yoghurt consumption, has proved one of the fastest growing dairy categories, increasing at a range of around 20% per year since 2014. Lastly, although cheese consumption remains extremely low, the cheese market has increased in China by around 20% since 2016.

The increasing popularity of yoghurt amongst Chinese consumers can be linked to its perception as a health food which is aids a healthy digestion and provides a good source of protein. However, there are ongoing concerns regarding the quality of dairy products in China, particularly since the baby milk formula scandal of 2008. As a result, multinationals continue to benefit from these concerns; a situation which is highlighted by the market prominence of the New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra.

Furthermore, the Chinese government is now paying close attention to the quality of domestically produced milk, encouraging the expansion of the country’s dairy industry over the past few years. Those dairy producers seeking to benefit from the dairy trend are putting an emphasis on product quality, safety and beneficial added ingredients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Once again, the dairy segment is an area of food and beverage recruitment in China which is likely to see ongoing buoyancy, as the skills of talented individuals continue to be in demand in areas including probiotics and nutrition, ingredients, alternative proteins, beverages and more.

Plant power

Whilst China’s dairy industry continues to boom, Chinese consumers are increasingly turning to plant-based proteins rather than meat products. In addition, the consumption of fruit and vegetables is also increasing at a rapid rate. In fact, Chinese consumers are responsible for eating their way through almost half of the world’s fruit and vegetable output!

So what’s triggering this rise in fruit and vegetable consumption? As we’ve seen in so many nations in the Asia Pacific region, the Chinese population are looking for ways to improve their health, and official dietary guidelines are now in place which recommend reduced meat consumption.

Whilst an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption is good news for those involved in Chinese agriculture, making the most of the latest developments in agri-tech, for example, is likely to prove crucial in ensuring imports of fresh produce are kept to a minimum, making agribusiness a key segment for food and beverage industry consultants in China.

Peak Recruit – leading food and beverage consultants in China

We are a highly experienced team of recruitment experts, specialising in the food and beverage, animal agriculture and crop agribusiness markets. We operate throughout South East Asia, the wider Asia Pacific Region and Europe.

To find out how we can help you find the talent you need to drive your business forward, or land your dream role, please get in touch to speak to one of our team.