Last Updated on February 16, 2021 by Novotaste
The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has kicked off with a bounty of festive offerings, as ongoing lockdown measures inspire consumers to turn to food as gifting.
The beginning of the Year of the Ox has been graced with bullish performance in Chinese takeout as well as online fruit sales, as consumers find creative ways to celebrate around the rotating table at home.
In a trend analysis by Innova Market Insights, peach was pegged as the fastest growing flavor observed in festive desserts and indulgent tea launches.
“Chinese New Year is not limited to China or even Asia. Fourteen percent of global products tracked with ‘Chinese New Year’ or ‘Lunar New Year’ were launched outside of Asia, between March 2020 and Feb 2021,” Michelle Asma, market analyst at Innova Market Insights, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
The occasion heralds launches of themed snacks (19 percent) and bakery goods (15 percent), which are the top two categories in terms of product launches in the run-up to the festivities in China, between December 2020 and Feb 2021, Asma notes.
“Peach flavor saw an average annual growth of 30 percent in product launches in China, based on compound annual growth between the years 2017 and 2020.”
Fruit sales bloom in time for Spring Festival
The sales boom of fruits began in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year. As the pandemic has dealt hard blows to the wholesale fruit market, consumers shifted to buying fruit through online fruit shops this year.
According to online fruit company Fruitually, many online fruit shops have launched Chinese New Year fruit baskets and provide door-to-door delivery service.
With Innova Market Insights pegging “In-Tune with Immune” as a top trend for this year, Fruitually highlights that consumption of fruits that strengthen the immune system enjoyed a 20 percent increase.
Kiwi, strawberries, bananas and citrus saw a surge in popularity. Meanwhile, exotic fruits such as lotus mist, dragon fruit, durian and sugar apple have shown a year-on-year trend of rising in volume and price.
Chinese foodservice heats up
The international online food delivery market recorded 27 percent year-on-year growth in 2020 and is projected to grow by at least 15 percent in 2021.
This is according to new data published by HungryPanda, a global food delivery platform specifically targeting overseas Chinese consumers in 47 cities across Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
In Australia, there was a 383 percent increase in total orders, in contrast to 0.6 million orders in 2019, with Sydney accounting for 45 percent.
In their food choices, Australian consumers take a “laid back and casual” approach to choosing quality Asian food, preferring authentic street food and fried dishes to spicy dishes and hotpots preferred in other countries.
“Our Australian consumers have a clear preference for easy and authentic street food dishes, such as tea egg, youtiao (fried dough), duck meat porridge, and vermicelli soup,” says Eric Liu, founder and CEO of HungryPanda.
“Fried dishes are also very popular among our Australian customers.”
In the US, there was a 600 percent increase in total orders, benefiting from the new market expansion. New York represented 40 percent orders, with one customer spending over US$2,000 to buy mooncakes.
Consumers in the US prefer spicier foods such as Haidilao hotpot, ma la xiang guo and steamed chicken with chili sauce.
In contrast, its immediate neighbor Canada favored soup dishes with items such as pork bone soup, beef soup and ma la tang (a spicy Chinese soup with various meats and vegetables).
Meanwhile, the UK reached a 36 percent increase in Chinese takeout orders. London alone recorded over 25 percent of total orders.
Diners in the UK preferred spicier foods such as traditional Chinese hotpot, steamed chicken with chili sauce, spicy Sichuan food such as yuxiang shredded pork, kung pao chicken and boiled beef.
New Zealand and France were found to share a similar taste with the Sichuan style of cooking – small pieces of meat or vegetables roasted on skewers – matching with beers and milk tea.
Cozying up with a Shanghai sip
Among product launches, Nespresso has unveiled a new coffee variety within its World Explorations range, Shanghai Lungo, to invigorate the first day of the ox year.
The blend is illustrated as a distinctively light-roast with Kenyan, Chinese and Indonesian Arabicas that bring zest with fine berry notes.
Nespresso has also rolled out a Lunar New Year coffee assortment and coffee gift set comprising five coffee sleeves, limited-edition chopsticks made from recycled aluminium and a pair of branded coffee cups.
Artisanal chocolates for a sweet year
In confectionery launches, British chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker unveiled its limited-edition Chinese New Year truffles.
Each red and gold handcrafted box is decorated with a traditional Chinese lattice pattern, often found on windows and architectural structures in and around Hong Kong and China.
Charbonnel’s Dark Chocolate Truffles each hold pillowy ganache filling enrobed in rich dark chocolate, topped with a delicate gold leaf for a final touch of elegance and good fortune.
Auspicious treats and porcelain gin
Jouer has revealed its Chinese New Year gift sets with the addition of the Porcelain Gin Prosperity Gift Hamper through a partnership with the premium Shanghai brand Porcelain Gin.
The bamboo hamper contains a bottle of its namesake Shanghai Dry Gin, all of the signature Chinese New Year treats, and a selection of an artisanal Lunar New Year-themed black sugar pudding in collaboration with Black Garlic.
This double-tiered Chinese bamboo lunch basket includes all the patisserie’s Chinese New Year truffles, pate de fruit, macarons, empanada and cake packed in compact round boxes. Flavors include pu-erh tea, grapefruit, hawthorn, ginger, osmanthus, ginger, taro and water chestnut.
Spicy cookies for a reinvigorated year
Singaporean bakery Bread Garden experimented this year with new and interesting tastes that appeal to a younger generation of Chinese New Year snack buyers.
Its gift basket this year includes new cookies baked with Sichuan peppercorns, chili peppers and other spices.
The basket also features classic favorites such as pineapple tarts, macadamia buttery cookies, kueh bangkit, almond cookies and spicy shrimp rolls.
By Benjamin Ferrer