Want Want China Holdings Ltd., one of China’s largest processed-foods companies, is expanding into the lucrative niche market for soy and other plant-based milk products as Chinese families spend more for healthy options.
The Hong Kong-listed company plans to introduce its line of soy and oat milk this year as it forecasts the market for plant-based milk will more than double to about 55 billion yuan ($8 billion) within two to three years, Alex Chen Junjiang, the company’s general director of research and development, said in an interview.
“We’ve put lots of investment into researching and developing kids’ packet products like oat milk, coconut milk and cereal milk that we’ll soon be introducing in the market,” said Chen, speaking at the China Dairy Summit in Beijing. “Growth momentum has been missing in the last few years but we think that it’s returning.”
Chinese dairy companies are competing for growth in the $55.2 billion dairy market as consumers upgrade from liquid milk to premium products such as yogurt, cheese and plant-based milk. As dairy milk sales stagnates, local and foreign companies are investing in farms and concocting recipes to drive consumer interest in other dairy products.