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Commodity Innovation Series – Snapshot of opportunities in China's barley and malt sector

China has been the world’s largest importer of barley and malt for the past fifteen years.

Market trends

  • In 2015, China imported over ten million tonnes of barley and malt from the world.
  • Imports dropped to five million tonnes in 2016 as a result of more alternatives on the market and more restrictive import controls in China.
  • Demand for barley and malt, will increase gradually for two major reasons:
    1. China became a net grain importer in 2011, and imports will continue to increase;
    2. Lower grain production caused by China’s urbanization, limited farm land and industrialization will lead to more imports.

Trade overview

Sources: Global Trade Tracker (GTT), CATSNET,

Barley and malt in bulk

Barley and Malt Import Value in China
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Year Import value (US$ Millions)
2012 790
2013 807
2014 1,581
2015 2,863
2016 1,145

Source: GTT

Barley and Malt Import Volume in China
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Year Volume (Metric Tonnes in millions)
2012 2.54
2013 2.35
2014 5.42
2015 10.74
2016 5.01

Source: GTT

Barley and malt as ingredients

China's top companies and their brands
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Company Number of products Top brands
Mondelez 10 Tuc
Ezaki Glico 3 Glico Pocky Mousse
AB Food & Beverages 4 Ovaltine Lohas 5 Grains
Meiji 3 Meiji Hello Panda
Binding Brauerei 2 Binding

Source: Global New Product Database (GNPD), Mintel 2017

Health and wellness claims are growing for new products containing barley and malt

Top 5 Growing Claims

  1. Social Media
  2. Vegan
  3. No Animal Ingredients
  4. On-the-Go
  5. Gluten-Free

Top 5 Declining Claims

  1. Diabetic
  2. Interesting Packaging
  3. Anti-Ageing
  4. Novel
  5. Whitening

Flixible packaging is the trend

Top Package Type

  1. Flexible
  2. Bottle
  3. Carton
  4. Tub
  5. Flexible sachet

Top Packaged Materials

  1. Plastic unspecified
  2. Board white lined
  3. Metallised film
  4. Board plastic lined
  5. Corrugated 2-sided

Top innovative markets for barley & malt in China

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Innovation Criteria Spain China Germany Italy USA Japan India UK France Brazil
Relaunch 8 8 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3
New Product 15 15 19 18 14 14 18 18 13 17
Product Line Diversity 16 16 15 15 15 14 14 7 15 7
Health & Wellness Claims 20 19 19 18 18 18 17 17 17 17
Rating scale: Excellent (20-17), Very good (16-13), Good (12-9), Fair (8-5), Low (4-0)

Source: GNPD, Mintel 2017

Factors of consideration

Recommendation for entry

How we can help

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