Does low-calorie light food really capture the hearts of young Chinese people?

At present, urban-living young people in China have started to pay great attention to their health, especially those who are working under a “996” culture. In order to keep fit and eat healthily, they have started to choose low-calorie and light food options, and wherever there is a market, there are business opportunities.

In the past few years, the number of companies who are specialising in making low-calorie food and light food in China has shown great growth in the industry. In the first nine months of 2021, there were 4,300 new companies springing up.

However, there are still some obstacles ahead making further development of this industry very difficult, which include the limited nutritional value, relatively poor taste, and high unit price of the food itself. In order to change the status quo, some brands have come up with their own strategies to deal with the aforementioned challenges.

Brands that cannot adapt to the changes in the market have quit from the competition entirely. In December 2021, the popular light food brand “Element Fresh” closed all its stores in China and Element Fresh’s parent company, Scott Minoie, issued a notice announcing Element Fresh’s bankruptcy and liquidation soon after.

Even though the demand for low-calorie light meals from Gen Z continues to grow, it is clear that not all “low-calorie” and “light food” can win their favour. The fact that foreign light food brands are closing stores in China does not mean that the light food market has lost its appeal.

In fact, the prospect of domestic light food brands is still very promising. Compared with foreign brands, Chinese local light food brands are more down-to-earth and know how to attract young people who wish to lead a healthier lifestyle. With competition being so fierce between experienced brands and emerging brands, it is not always about the positioning, but also about using a suitable marketing strategy and the right promotional channel.


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