UMS Morning Brief monthly overview – March

To give a general idea of what’s in the UMS’ bespoke China Daily Morning Brief, a daily email service focused on four industry categories – Education, Tourism, Food & Beverage, and Health & Skincare, I decided to write a summary of the March insights our team published.

The Morning Brief reports on the latest buzz on social media and what topics have been discussed most in China’s market. Providing a broad reference for four different industries: education, travel, food and beverage, and health and wellness, the publication enables brands to make proactive strategic decisions. Let’s take a look at some of the themes that were highlighted in March’s publications.


1. Education industry

Despite a steady rollout of the Coivid-19 vaccine in Australia, its boarders remain closed to international students, a decision reiterated by Scott Morrison during a cabinet meeting last month. Many students called this decision the “last straw” for them to study in Australia, and data has shown that if the Australian government does not have a clear plan to open its boarders, 45% of international students will consider changing their destination of study to places such as the UK, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand.

In addition, fall 2021 applications are looking to be harder and more competitive due to the impact of Covid-19 which has caused many students enrolled in autumn 2020 to defer to spring 2021 or autumn 2021. However, many foreign students still see studying abroad as a wise decision despite the current climate, as it offers them a unique perspective on the world and connects them with excellent teachers and majors.


2. Travel industry

As the pandemic is brought under control and the tourism economy grows, the IATA Travel Pass will enable travellers to safely control their health data and share it with all concerned parties. About 53% of the world’s tourist destinations have already begun to relax travel restrictions, however 1/3 remained closed to international tourists and it is still recommended that people do not travel unless entirely necessary.

As the Covid-19 vaccine becomes more available, countries are beginning to look at “travel bubbles” which allow tourists to travel without quarantining at either end. In March, Australia announced travel bubbles with both New Zealand and Singapore. This gradual increase in overseas travel has seen a recovery of the global aviation industry, with the operational rate of aircraft reaching 72.08%. This is particularly true in the Asia-Pacific region, where growth is even more pronounced. Travel demand in the Asia-Pacific region is mainly driven by domestic demand, with more than 50% of people considering exploring international travel except in Hong Kong, China. Greg Foran, CEO of Air New Zealand, said international air travel will quickly return to the same level as before, given the sense of recent security.


3. Food and beverage  industry

A key theme of social buzz in China’s food and beverage market surrounded the fruit market and some key developments. Although the fruit market has performed poorly since 2020 and domestic fruit prices are in a low position, imported fruits such as mangoes, kiwi and cherries, are proving popular. Cherries, once a luxury fruit, have become a popular search topic, triggering much discussion and a consumption boom. Their price drop from 500 to 200 yuan per box has produced a wave of what consumers call “cherries freedom”. Chilean cherries have maintained a high position in the imported fruit industry in China since November 2019, causing their price drop. The pandemic has accelerated China’s market for imported fruits, increasing competition. In addition, China imported 14,500 tons of mangoes in 2019, with a total import amount of $26.5 million. Consumer demand for high-quality mangoes is high, and Australian mangoes are the most expensive in high-end supermarkets.

As mentioned in last month’s summary, pet food continues to be a hot topic online and pet food formulas containing high meat and protein content with low carbohydrates have become a popular choice for consumers. The pet food industry has increased by 18.5% and the market is currently in a stage of rapid development.


4. Health & skincare industry

Hyaluronic acid attracted a lot of attention in the market as it has recently become the most popular cosmetic skincare ingredient among consumers. The ingredient has been approved as a raw food material, extending it to be used in a wide range of food products. The market space of food-grade hyaluronic acid raw materials and terminal products in China is expected to reach 800 million yuan and 15.4 billion yuan respectively in the medium and long term. Taking hyaluronic orally can effectively moisturize the human body with safe ingredients, but is still controversial, despite being approved as a new raw food ingredient.

People’s demand for nutrition has gradually changed from strong nutrition to balanced nutrition. Among numerous beverage categories, plant protein beverages are one of the fastest-growing categories over the past two years. Although the sales volume of nutrition products has declined after the pandemic, the proportion of nutrition products in the consumption structure of maternal and infants is constantly increasing. As people’s health consciousness is constantly enhancing, the demand for functional products from professional supplements to simple food is increasing also. E-commerce channels for dietary supplements have accelerated since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 with a compound growth rate of more than 50%.