WonderLab, a Chinese start-up, is tapping into the growing demand for healthy eating habits in China by offering nutritious meal replacements in various flavors. The market for such products is booming, driven by urban lifestyle changes and a new generation of health-conscious consumers.
- 🥗 WonderLab, a Chinese start-up, sells protein-packed meal replacements in bottles with various flavors, catering to health-conscious consumers.
- 🏛️ Sweetie Salad, a Chinese food start-up, tried a publicity stunt with Spartan warrior parades in 2017, but it closed down in 2019.
- 🍽️ The demand for healthier food options is growing in China due to changes in urban lifestyle and a new generation of health-conscious shoppers.
- 📈 Sales of meal replacements nearly quadrupled in 2020, and the market is forecasted to reach $18.6 billion in revenues by 2022.
- 🥤 WonderLab’s ready-to-drink shakes provide 25 grams of protein and claim to keep hunger at bay for up to five hours, attracting female dieters.
- 🍚 Wangbaobao, a Beijing-based oatmeal brand, is a top seller in the cereal category, offering healthier processing methods and innovative flavors.
- 💰 The meal replacement market in China is competitive, attracting significant investments, but long-term consumer adherence to meal replacements remains uncertain.
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In recent years, the Chinese consumer landscape has witnessed a remarkable shift towards healthier eating habits and a growing fascination with body image. As urban lifestyles evolve and a new generation of health-conscious shoppers emerges, the demand for more nutritious and low-calorie food options has skyrocketed. Among the innovative solutions gaining traction are the so-called “meal replacement” products, which offer consumers convenient, ready-to-drink alternatives to traditional meals. In this article, we explore the brands spearheading China’s “meal replacement” vogue and delve into the factors driving their exponential growth.
The Changing Landscape
With the growing emphasis on health and wellness, Chinese consumers are increasingly steering away from calorie-laden snacks and instead opting for nutrient-rich refreshments that provide both sustenance and convenience. Products like ready-to-drink milkshakes, protein bars, instant porridges, and soups-to-go have experienced a surge in popularity. A prime example is the Smart Calories milkshake by Pepsi, which boasts only 200 calories per bottle while keeping dieters full for up to four hours.
The appeal of meal replacements lies not only in their convenience but also in their ability to meet consumers’ nutritional requirements without the need for cooking or meal preparation. As the hectic pace of modern life leaves little time for elaborate meals, these products offer a practical and efficient way to maintain a balanced diet.
Market Growth and Projections
The rapid adoption of meal replacements has led to substantial growth in the market. According to data from Tmall, sales of these products nearly quadrupled in 2020, and the average spend per person in the category exceeded Rmb3,000. Market research firm Euromonitor predicts that by 2022, the industry could reach a staggering Rmb120 billion ($18.6 billion) in revenues.
WonderLab: A Pioneer in Meal Replacements
Among the burgeoning brands in this space, WonderLab has emerged as a standout player. Backed by prominent investors, including IDG Capital, Cathay Capital, and Tiantu Capital, WonderLab has sold over 30 million bottles of its protein powder blend, solidifying its position as a leading bodyshape manager. Boasting a mix of nutrients equivalent to a cup of milk, a 100-gram steak, and 30 spinach chunks, WonderLab’s shakes provide 25 grams of protein, ensuring satiety for up to five hours.
A key differentiator for WonderLab is its diverse range of flavors, which includes Earl Grey milk tea, hazelnut chocolate, genmaicha tea, and walnut-sesame. The incorporation of ingredients like collagen and cranberry extracts, which promise beauty benefits, has been a hit with female dieters in China.
Wangbaobao: Oatmeal with a Twist
Another brand making waves in the meal replacement market is Wangbaobao, a Beijing-based oatmeal company. Known for its fundraising prowess, Wangbaobao raised hundreds of millions of yuan in series C financing from investors like MatrixPartners and Hillhouse Capital. Its success can be attributed to its healthier approach to processing oats, using low-temperature baking, and its innovative flavor profiles, such as peach oolong and pork floss with corn.
The company has also capitalized on the online shopping frenzy, becoming the top-selling cereal brand during various e-commerce festivals, outperforming established players like Quaker Oats and Kellogg’s. With a growing network of 10,000 points of sale, Wangbaobao’s unique marketing and product offerings have garnered significant consumer interest.
Competitive Landscape and Investment Opportunities
The rapid rise of meal replacements has caught the attention of investors, leading to significant funding activity in the sector. However, the growing number of brands entering the market also means increased competition. To maintain a competitive edge, some meal replacement companies, including WonderLab and Wangbaobao, have focused on diversifying their product portfolios by introducing health supplements and related offerings.
While the meal replacement market shows immense potential, it also faces challenges. The long-term sustainability of meal replacement diets remains uncertain, with a survey showing that only 7% of consumers stick to their dietary regime after a month of trying meal replacements. Nonetheless, China’s vast population presents a sizable consumer base, providing opportunities for growth and market expansion.
In conclusion, the “meal replacement” trend represents a significant shift in Chinese consumer behavior towards healthier and more convenient eating habits. Brands like WonderLab and Wangbaobao have successfully capitalized on this trend, offering innovative and nutritious products to meet the evolving demands of health-conscious consumers. As the market continues to mature, investment in this sector is likely to remain robust, driven by the potential for substantial returns in a nation where health and wellness have taken center stage.
About the Wonderlab Study
This is a randomized controlled trial studying the effect of WONDERLAB Probiotic Compound Powder on improving the immunity of preschool children. It involves 140 children aged 5 to 6 years old, divided into two groups with 70 subjects each. The trial includes a one-week washout period and a 25-week clinical intervention, aiming to have 100 volunteers complete the study.
- 🧒 A randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of WONDERLAB Probiotic Compound Powder on preschool children’s immunity.
- 💊 140 children aged 5 to 6 years old are recruited, with 70 in the placebo group and 70 in the experimental product group.
- 🔄 The study consists of a one-week washout period followed by a 25-week clinical intervention.
- ➡️ The target is to ensure 100 participants complete the entire study, with an expected withdrawal rate of approximately 28%.
- 🏥 OFFICIAL TITLE: A Clinical Study on The Effect of Probiotic Compound Powder (WONDERLAB) on The Immunity Improvement of Preschool Children (RCT)
- 🍼 The study uses two dietary supplements: Wonderlab Kids instant probiotics and instant probiotic placebo.
- 🗓️ PRIMARY COMPLETION (Estimated): April 2023 | STUDY COMPLETION (Estimated): May 2023
- 👦 ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Preschool children aged 5 to 6 years old with weak constitution and a history of specific illnesses. Participants must agree to avoid certain medications and prebiotic/bacterial products during the trial and provide informed consent.
- ❌ EXCLUSION CRITERIA: Children with gastrointestinal diseases, lactose intolerance, and certain organic diseases affecting intestinal function are excluded. Subjects with specific medical histories or diagnosed diseases that may interfere with the evaluation are also excluded.
- 🔬 PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Xiaoyang Sheng, MD, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine