In Hong Kong, cheese is widely used and flexibly applied to various Western dishes, ranging from pizza, sandwiches and salads and even red wine. With growing Westernised eating habits among Hong Kong consumers, more and more new cheese types and flavours are emerging on supermarket shelves.
Despite ongoing innovation, Hong Kong consumers tend to possess very limited knowledge of cheese and they find it hard to distinguish between different types. To erase confusion and stimulate consumption, key players have made strong efforts to educate consumer on cheese and its applications.
Aside from cooking applications, key players have explored new opportunities for cheese consumption. Cheese snacks, generally in stick or cube form, have gained an increasing market presence because of their portability and positioning as a “healthy snack” option rich in calcium.
Kraft (Kraft Foods Hong Kong), which claims to be the leader in terms of global sales, is a well-established brand in Hong Kong. Rather than product innovations, Kraft puts more emphasis on branding strategy to bolster consumer bonding.
The giant dairy brand Anchor, present in butter and drinking milk products, entered cheese in Hong Kong with Candy Cheese in May 2017. Moreover, it launched new product lines of processed cheese, Lite Processed Cheese and Cheddar Processed Cheese, in January 2018 to strengthen its market presence.
As on-the-go lifestyles spread in Hong Kong, La Vache Qui Rit (Unibel) launched new product lines of cheese snacks: Cheese Spread Belcube; and Cheese Dippers with breadsticks. The aim is to offer unique snacking experiences to Hong Kong consumers.
Hong Kong consumers are opting for healthier daily diets. Among the younger generation, there is an increasing preference for drinking milk products that are more natural, with no preservatives or antibiotics, highly nutritious and environmentally-friendly, with no animal base.
While adhering to rising health trends, key players are focused on creating taste and packaging excitements. Trappist Dairy, for example, regularly launches seasonal flavours, such as guava in summer, ginger in winter and white chocolate for Valentine’s Day.
There is also growing competition in shelf stable milk in Hong Kong, with more international brands, such as Seoul Milk, Emmi, Mengniu and Magnolia, occupying more shelf space in supermarkets. Alongside aggressive in-store promotions by existing companies, players present in other dairy categories, such as the condensed milk brand Black & White, also diversified their product portfolios by launching shelf stable milks and heavily promoting them throughout 2018.
Vitasoy International Holdings is the long-standing key player, and owner of several brands, in soy drinks.
Another of Vitasoy’s non-refrigerated brands, Calci-Plus, not only aims to provide health benefits, but also storage convenience to Hong Kong consumers. In addition to frequent innovations to Calci-Plus High-Calcium Soy Milk, such as an “advanced formula” to reduce cholesterol levels and offer unsweetened flavours, it has provided innovation through other plant-derived alternatives, such as Calci-Plus Coconut and Almond High-Calcium Healthy Drink.
Royal FrieslandCampina, which has maintained a strong presence in Hong Kong since 1938, was crowned Hong Kong’s Most Valuable Company in 2018. Through Friesland Foods Hong Kong, the key Dutch Lady brand is renowned for its high-quality products and long-term advocacy of the family.
Yoghurt has generally been perceived as a functional product for digestion only; and not commonly seen as a daily consumption option. With the rise in Westernised eating habits and growing health and wellness awareness among Hong Kong consumers, yoghurt received wider acceptance and grew its presence in 2018.
Given relative category saturation and stable consumption patterns, some drinking milk products players have diversified their product portfolios by entering yoghurt, where they see better prospects in terms of profit. Kowloon Dairy and Trappist Dairy, well-established players in both fresh milk and flavoured milk drinks, launched entirely new product lines in drinking yoghurt and plain yoghurt, respectively, from 2017.
While Yakult is the long-time dominant brand in drinking yoghurt, more international brands increased their shelf presence on supermarket shelves by 2018. Brands like Yoyi C (mainland China), Bifido (Taiwan), Meiji (Japan) and Maeil (South Korea) have increased the pressure on Yakult, which witnessed retail value share losses throughout the review period.
Well-established Kowloon Dairy remained the leading player in fresh milk in 2018. In mid-2017, the company launched another product line by introducing drinking yoghurt in both original and green apple flavours.
Dairy Farm (Nestlé Hong Kong) initiated “Finally We Got This Healthy Snack!” as a marketing slogan in mid-2017, newly positioning itself as a “healthy snack” option for children. The marketing claims that Dairy Farm contains no preservatives, but has active lactobacillus, which is good-for-digestion.
In mid-2017, Yakult Honsha introduced another good-for-breakfast drinking yoghurt brand, Joie, especially intended for children in Hong Kong. Adding milk to the original recipe of Yakult, Joie aims to bring new excitement and provide more health-functional ingredients, such as calcium, vitamin D and probiotics.
There is growing concern over potential health risks associated with coffee whiteners among Hong Kong consumers. They have started to perceive the “extra ingredients” in coffee whiteners, including sugar, sodium, corn syrup and food colourings to mimic the qualities of milk and cream, as unhealthy, as they can increase trans-fat and calorie counts.
Plain condensed milk also faced numerous challenges in 2018. Apart from the dropping demand among the growing base of health-conscious consumers, usage of plain condensed milk is still limited to breakfast options, traditional dishes or drinks only.
Alongside packaging innovations, players have pushed different application opportunities for other dairy, both offline and online. Président (Groupe Lactalis), for instance, organised “Mum’s Cooking Competition” in mid-2018, which encouraged participants to share their recipes with its dairy products to win a prize.
Nestlé focused more on other coffee-related areas, rather than Coffee-mate in 2018. For example, a focus on all-in-one instant coffee boosted Nescafé, underpinned by its convenience, affordable pricing and wide variety of tastes.
Eagle (Nestlé), the leading condensed milk brand in Hong Kong, has launched several innovations to catch the latest trends. Regarding rising health and wellness awareness, the brand launched two new series of skimmed milk and “light” condensed milk containing less than 1% fat.
Black & White, an evaporated and condensed milk brand, which devotes most of its business to food and beverages, entered the retail channel in 2014. The brand has driven Hong Kong-style milk tea culture for over 70 years.
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Discover the latest market trends and uncover sources of future market growth for the Dairy industry in Hong Kong, China with research from Euromonitor's team of in-country analysts.
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This industry report originates from Passport, our Packaged Food market research database.