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Commodity Innovation Series - Snapshot of opportunities in China's oat sector

Canada was China’s fourth largest supplier of oats in 2016, worth C$1.26 million.

Market trends

  • From 2012 to 2016, retail sales for breakfast cereals in mainland China increased by 53.3%, at a compound annual growth rate of 11.3%. Retail volume increased by 29.4% during the same period, at a compound annual growth rate of 6.7%. In 2016, retail sales of breakfast cereals in mainland China were worth US$914.1 million.
  • Retail sales for baked goods in mainland China increased 58.8% over the last five years, at a compound annual growth rate of 12.2%, while the volume of baked goods sold increased by 32.6% at a compound annual growth rate of 7.3%. In 2016, baked goods in China were worth US$25 billion.

Oat trade

  • In 2016, China imported C$87.77 million worth of oats from the world.
  • Chinese oat imports from the world grew at a compound annual growth rate of 31.8% from 2012 to 2016.
  • Oat imports from Canada grew at a compound annual growth rate of 384% during the same period.

Oats in bulk

Chinese oat imports by supplying country, 2016
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Country  2016 (M)
Australia 81.24
Finland 2.36
U.S. 1.84
Canada 1.26
New Zealand 0.25
Other  0.81
Chinese oat imports from Canada, 2012-2016
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Oat seeds for sowing 54%
Worked oat grains (excluding rolled, flaked, pellets, and flour) 18%
Rolled or flaked oat grains 28%

Oats used as an ingredient

Top companies launching the most oat-containing products in China, 2012-2016
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Company Number of variants Top brand
PepsiCo 28 Quaker
Guilin Seamild Bio Technology Co. 18 Seamild
Zhongshantang Foods 15 Zhong Shan Tang
Wal-Mart 14 Great Value
Heinz 13 Heinz

21 of PepsiCo’s oat products launched between 2012 and 2016 belonged to the Quaker brand.

There is a growing emphasis on products that are quick and easy to consume.

Top Five Claims

  1. On-the-go
  2. Vegetarian
  3. Convenient packaging
  4. Wholegrain
  5. Ease of use

Top Five Declining Claims

  1. Low/no/reduced sugar
  2. Vitamin/mineral fortified
  3. Bone health
  4. Added calcium
  5. High/added protein

New packaging made up 14.7% of product launches containing oats.

Top Package Types

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

Top Packaged Materials

  1. Metallised film
  2. Plastic unspecified
  3. Multi laminate
  4. Multi layer board
  5. Metal steel

Top innovative markets for oats in the world

China and Spain are the most innovative market for oats with the most new product launches containing oat ingredients.

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Innovation Criteria USA UK Germany Canada Spain France Mexico Brazil China India
Relaunch Fair Fair Fair Good Fair Fair Fair Good Low Good
New product Very good Very good Very good Good Excellent Very good Very good Good Excellent Good
Product line diversity Good Good Good Good Good Good Fair Fair Fair Fair
Health & wellness claims Excellent Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair Fair
Rating scale: Excellent (20-17), Very good (16-13), Good (12-9), Fair (8-5), Low (4-0)

Factors of consideration

Recommendations for entry

How we can help

View our Agri-Food Trade Services for information and support to help you achieve your international business goals.

International Trade Commissioners are also an excellent point of contact for export advice and can provide Canadian industry with on-the-ground expertise regarding market potential, current conditions, and local business contacts.

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