Chinese markets are known to have a fondness for all things Australian, which now appears to have extended to breakfast food.
Australian breakfast food Weet-bix has become widely popular in China almost overnight, after it was featured prominently in Chinese TV drama Ode to Joy.
In the scene, the actress dishes up two Weetbix from a 1.4 kg value pack, and proceeds to tuck in.
The same size pack can now be found on Chinese e-commerce site Yoycart for US$34 US, almost A$50, according the news.com.au.
After the airing of the Ode to Joy episode, customers have been seen stocking up on Weetbix, with some wondering if the breakfast product was the next baby formula.
— 3AW Breakfast (@RossAndJohn) June 22, 2016
Since China experienced a baby formula crisis in 2008, Chinese parents have taken to importing the formula from other countries, including Australia.
This has lead to many local supermarkets imposing strict buying limits on the tins.
A similar phenomenon occurred recently, with lip care product Lucas’ Papaw Ointment also experiencing a jump in demand.
Weet-bix was created in 1926 in Australia, with creator Bennison Osbourne seeking a tastier alternative to Sanitarium’s ‘Granose’. Sanitarium then bought Osbourne’s company two years later.
These days, Weet-bix is a breakfast staple, and is considered an iconic food in both Australia and New Zealand.
Todd Saunders, general manager of Sanitarium Health & Wellbeing, told SmartCompany this morning Sanitarium has been “actively monitoring an increased demand for Weet-Bix both from our Australian customers and those that we export to in China” over recent months.
“We want to assure our customers that despite increased demand for Weet-Bix, Sanitarium has capacity to continue to supply our retail partners,” Saunders said.
“Of the 42 countries to which we export Weet-Bix, China is our largest export market. We are excited to see more Chinese people choosing Australia’s most loved and trusted cereal for their daily breakfast.”
Why Aussie brands are popular in China
Nick Henderson, head of partnerships and development at Asialink Business told SmartCompany the popularity of products like Weetbix in China is due to a “number of factors.”
“The ‘daigou’ phenomenon is a key driving point for the popularity of these sorts of products, as sellers promote them in their own personal networks, which brings implied trust,” Henderson says.
“There is also a growing recognition of the safety and the ‘clean and green’ nature of Australian products, which is becoming desirable amongst the growing upper-middle class.”
Henderson says the depiction of the breakfast cereal on the TV drama isn’t the first time celebrities have endorsed Australian products.
“There’s been a few situations where these products have been used by celebrities, and it popularises them very quickly and they become a bit of a fad,” he says.
“Any product owner or company need to invest adequately in building brand recognition in China, and getting your product endorsed by a celebrity can help that.”
As for the high price of the wheat biscuits, Henderson says that it is “not sustainable.”
“We’ve seen it in the past with products like Bellamy’s and Blackmores, they rise initially and over a period of time settle to about twice their Australian retail price,” Henderson says”
“Once more people jump on the bandwagon, the price will go down.”
The episode of Ode to Joy that features Weet-bix: