Every vegetarian in China can relate, it’s hard to be a veggie in this country! Meat is the main part of many Chinese dishes. Although Chinese cuisine is composed of many vegetable, they are most of the time mixed with pork or chicken.

Overview of the Vegetarian market

Since the environmental and animal cause is affecting more and more people, many Chinese have made the choice to become vegetarians or vegans. In addition, hygiene standards are not as controlled as in the West. Some people thus decided to reduce their consumption of meat and prefer to eat in places they consider “trusty”.

However, these dietary restrictions can make their life harder! In China, it is common to eat almost every meal at the restaurant. Meals are so cheap that only few people are willing to cook. But as a vegetarian, options quickly become limited and meals become quickly repetitive! In Shanghai, more and more vegetarian or “healthy” restaurants with veggie options have opened. However they remain a minority!

To eat healthily and without meat, there is almost no choice but to cook. This can be rather annoying when it is so convenient to eat out or get delivered. In addition, fruits and vegetables in Chinese supermarkets are full of OGM and other pesticides. But also, it is very difficult to find products similar to those that could be found in the West. It may thus also not be that easy to cook… A big market is then to be conquered in China with vegetarians!

Which products to import?

  • Organic fruits and vegetables

The knowledge of the Chinese about the dangers of toxic products used in agriculture remains quite poor. In addition, there is still no real “organic” label in China. But their interest in these products is getting bigger and bigger! Their traditional culture evokes a deep respect for nature. Moreover, due to the many food scandals that the country has known, “green” products are more reassuring for them. They will even be willing to spend more money on these products to take care of their health.

  • Healthy restaurants with vegetarian/vegan option

This type of restaurant is a hit in Europe, the United States, Australia… But in China they are still nonexistent, or very rare. By offering healthy meals with vegetarian or vegan options, this will allow those concerned with the animal cause to come with their friends who have not necessarily made the choice to stop eating meat. Meals in China are generally very fat because they use a lot of oil! A restaurant with fresh, organic, and fat free products will thus be appreciated by all!

  • Instant dishes

Take the example of Carrefour, a French multinational retailer, which has developed its own range of products “Carrefour Veggie”. The products are very varied: soy dumplings, breaded vegetable patties, falafels, wheat nuggets … They are nonetheless greedy! This type of product could really make life easier for vegetarians in China, and therefore be a great success in the market!

How to conquer this market?

  • Know where to go

Although the interest in vegetarianism is growing, its progress is not that quick and does not affect the whole country. Only the big cities will represent an interesting market for this type of products. On the one hand because the inhabitants in big cities will be more open to this kind of conviction. Then, Chinese will be more present. And finally, this type of products will obviously be more expensive than Chinese products. So you have to go to cities where people have a bigger purchasing power!

  • Find distributors

People looking for this type of product will go to major shopping centers, offering foreign brands. Several major retail brands are already enjoying great success in China (Carrefour, Walmart …). However small chains of imported products can also be very good partnerships.

  • Offer home delivery

In China, home delivery is highly developed. Everywhere in the streets you can see the scooters of the deliverymen of “Eleme”, “Meituan” and many others. It is a habit of consumption that Chinese consumers have developed, because cities are big, public transports are crowded, and traffic jams are huge, delivery food is very convenient! In addition, delivery costs remain affordable. To succeed in the market, you will have to offer this service as well.

By making access to these types of products easier, Chinese interest in vegetarianism will for sure increase. It will be very hard to convince the entire population, because it has well-established habits. However the new generation will surely become more sensitive to this cause if the market encourages it!

  • E-Reputation

Reputation is very important in China if you want to conquer the Chinese customers. Chinese Customers will trust one brand who have a good image online. Don’t hesitate to put interesting content about your products online.  Chinese like read good comments or recommendation of their friends or family before to buy something. Then, if you want to increase your trust rank in China, you can also work with a digital agency that will help you to erase all bad comments about you and put hight good comments.

Do you want enter in this lucrative market?


One solution: GMA

Gentlemen Marketing Agency is a digital marketing agency based in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.

We help you to develop the best marketing solution for your business.

If you need more information about how to do business in China, please visit our website.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have the project to implant there, we can help you getting the best digital marketing strategy for your brand !

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