How Snacking Reflects China’s Social Economic Class

Snacking isn't only a great way to pass the time; it’s also a cultural phenomenon.


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China’s food culture is shifting towards snacking. There is a change in eating behavior as more and more people replace snacking with proper meals. According to experts, “snackification” is a global trend that is exploding in Asia.

black sugar cube gingerBlack Sugar Cube with Gåinger

Snacking has grown in popularity with the growth of China’s middle class. In 2020 the middle class in China has grown to include 400 million people. They are. in turn, more willing to spend money on higher-quality foods.

This trend of healthier foods is reflected in people with an average income of 106,000-229,000 yuan a year (around $15,000-$33,000).

Rose Cake

There seem to be two sides to Chinese snacking.

On the one hand, there are healthy snacks. The American motivation for snacking is out of convenience, the craving for familiar flavors, and ease.

Chinese motivation to snack comes from wanting the nutritional value that makes on-the-go snacks healthy. Many Chinese snack bars consist of cereals or dried fruits. These snack bars have a high level of protein, which meets the demands of health enthusiasts.

Dried Jujubes with Nuts

On the other hand,indulgence in cakes, pastries and sweet pies is also a motivation in China. The idea of buying yourself a treat/reward for hard work is abundant in China’s middle class. There is a culture of snacks being associated with outings such as picnics or going to the movies.

There has been a steady influx of Chinese citizens shifting to city life. Snack manufacturers have shifted their distribution methods as a result. City dwellers are more likely to buy packaged food than to cook a meal at home.

Snackers in the city are more likely to want soft and puffy snacks in the morning. Inversely, they want crispy and spicy snacks during their downtime.

dried meat flossSpicy Dried Meat Floss Bread

Like the era of #instagramfood, Chinese snacking seems to be a trend on social media. Middle class China is focused on following what is trending.

By following the posts of a viral celebrity (网红 wǎng hóng), influencers create a demand for popular foods they post about. There seems to be a “wardrobe snack” trend of coordinating snacks to clothing.

 

The middle class dominates the Chinese snack industry.

Whether it be for comfort, health or indulgence, the snack industry in China is booming. The annual output exceeded 2 trillion yuan in 2019. As one of the fastest developing industries this is expected to increase to 3 trillion yuan by the end of 2020.

The rapid development of the industry can be credited to the rapid development of China’s middle class. Find out what kind of snack you are to be a part of this snack movement.


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