The plant-based yoghurt segment is projected to enjoy tremendous growth in China as this category is considered a premium health segment on top of the reality that more than 90% of Chinese consumers are suffering from lactose-intolerance thereby making this plant-based milk alternative a good substitute for milk.
With rising concern over sustainability as well as growing diseases in farmed animals in recent years, Chinese consumers are also turning to plant-based foods as healthier and safer source of nutrition.
In addition, China has some of the most industry-friendly laws in the world which allows the use of the term ‘milk’ and ‘cheese’ for most plant-based dairy products. Unfortunately, for the plant-based yoghurt sector, several regulatory obstacles need to be resolved as currently, there is no specific category for yoghurts in China food listings and as a result, it falls under the ‘fermented plant-based beverage’ category which must be included in the product labelling. Nevertheless, sellers can still advertise their products as ‘plant-based dairy’ but on labels, it must be clearly indicated as ‘plant-based beverages’.
The strict regulation in China is still however more relaxed compared to its India and Australia counterparts where the plant-based dairy segment is still fighting for the right to use traditional dairy terms for its products.
In 2019, Nongfu Spring launched China’s first plant-based yoghurt released in 3 flavors namely coconut, almond and walnut. And recent entry includes Shanghai’s Marvellous Foods which announced the sale of its Yeyo coconut yoghurt (dairy-free) brand in February this year coinciding with the Winter Olympics 2022.
Plant-based yoghurt is considered to be part of China’s massive US$433 billion snacks industry.