China Food

It’s hard to turn over a can with fire

 

不愁温饱,不上不下。
 

 

Text:

Source: ocaij

 

The epidemic has set the can on fire.

Canned food is common in the guaranteed supplies in Shanghai, and canned food is also among the best in the inventory summarized by Shanghai residents. Some netizens said that canned meat can be used as a dish, canned vegetables can be used as a side dish, canned tomatoes can also be used as a sauce to stir fry some other ingredients, and canned fruits are like cola. If you are in a bad mood, you can have a bite and enjoy yourself.

 

As a result, when hoarding goods, residents everywhere not only pay attention to such necessities as rice, flour, grain and oil, but also buy some canned lunch meat, tuna and fruit, “it’s not bad anyway, just in case.”

 

In the past, cans that were characterized as “many preservatives”, “all saccharin”, “cancer after eating” and “all rotten ingredients” were accidentally re introduced into the air. Taking this opportunity, many consumers also understood the process of canned food and found that the canned food was not the imagined scuffle of bacteria, carcinogens and preservatives, but was sealed after sterilization to achieve the effect of long-term storage.

 

The demand has changed, the cognition has changed, and the cans have become a little popular among consumers. In fact, from the perspective of the whole industry, the canned food market is still a situation of traditional, mature and old companies. Although some new brands are gaining strength, due to the restriction of Chinese consumption habits, it is difficult to upgrade the process. The fresh food market, takeaway industry and other fast food industries are attacking each other. Now the canned food market is stable, and there are few changes. No one can break through this small iron box and tell new stories.

 

Under the epidemic situation, the canned food was on fire

Li Qing from Shanghai told her friends from other places to store more cans.

During the epidemic, she felt her perception of canned food had been subverted. “At the beginning, we always buy fresh fruits and vegetables. We buy a lot each time, but the green leafy vegetables and fruits will soon go bad. We are very anxious to see the fresh food go bad.” Li Qing first came into contact with canned luncheon meat in government supplies. She realized that the advantages of canned luncheon meat for food preservation were just shown during the epidemic.

 

“The shelf life of lunch meat is 3 years. Even if we don’t eat it now, we won’t worry about it if we put it there until the end.” She said that in the past, she thought that canned lunch meat would not be bought if she didn’t like to eat it and didn’t need it. “At that time, canned lunch meat was regarded as the same as all other foods. In fact, its role and advantage was in storage and transportation. Some canned lunch meat, such as instant noodles and snail powder, were always available at home. Even if there was no epidemic, it was convenient to eat and didn’t worry about the bad, it could meet her own needs.”

 

Li Qing also mentioned that because of the epidemic, she gradually realized the knowledge of food preservation. “There are many online tutorials for storing fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, green leafy vegetables, green onions and so on should be wiped dry, wrapped with a layer of kitchen paper, and then put into fresh-keeping bags.” She told kaipineapple finance that in normal times, it would not be considered that vegetables can be so protected. “After I started freezing food materials, I suddenly understood canned food. I think the process of canned food must be more scientific than our own method.”

 

In the inventory list shared by netizens in Shanghai, cans ranked third. Rice flour oil, meat, poultry, eggs and milk rank first, followed by quick-frozen semi-finished products, and then instant foods classified as “long-term preservation”, including cans. Li Qing said that a can is a dish. “In the past, we thought the canned food was salty and had a long shelf life. But this is precisely its advantage. When we had no time to cook, we could open a box of canned braised meat and canned luncheon meat and eat bibimbap.”

 

In addition, Li Qing was very satisfied with the price. Take several kinds of luncheon meat cans that are common in the market at present. The specification price of 198g is mostly about 15 yuan, and the price of a kilo is about 40 yuan. Compared with the price of live pigs in the farmers’ market, 40 yuan is indeed quite high, but from the platform of fresh e-commerce commonly used by young people, the price of a kilo of packaged pork is also about 30 yuan. Li Qing thinks that the price is acceptable, including the spices. The price of canned fruit mainly canned yellow peach is basically the same as that of fresh fruit. For example, the price of 425g canned yellow peach is about 7 yuan.

 

Not long ago, Enron in Beijing also purchased a wave of canned lunch meat and stored it at home. At the same time, as a fruit lover, she also took the opportunity to learn that canned fruits are not as unhealthy as she imagined. “I usually buy fruit, but the final result must be rotten. Canned fruit can solve this problem, and it is relatively fresh, which is better than throwing it away.” Enron said that when she was a child, her family always taught her that only rotten fruits could be canned. Canned fruits were soaked in saccharin.

 

Objectively speaking, canned food is to seal fresh ingredients in containers. Considering the need for long-term preservation, it is bound to sacrifice some nutrition and flavor. “Less than the top, more than the bottom” can be used to describe the situation of cans. Compared with synthetic and refined food, canned food is real food, but compared with fresh fruits and vegetables, the sugar and salt content in canned food is higher. For example, the content of sodium and potassium in canned meat such as lunch meat and braised meat is high, and the flavor is salty. Canned cucumber, canned yellow peach and other vegetables and fruits will lose some vitamin C.

 

In industrialized canned food production, sterilization and sealing are the main processes to ensure the safety of canned food, not preservatives. The China canning industry association once explained the canning process, first sterilizing the raw food materials at high temperature, and then isolating the external air and moisture through tinplate and other packaging materials, so as to achieve the purpose of long-term preservation. Therefore, as long as the standard process is strictly followed, there is no need to add preservatives to canned food.

 

The epidemic has given canned food a chance to prove itself again, from non necessities to “preparedness for emergencies”, from snacks and complementary foods to meals, from “junk food” to removing the hat of preservatives.

 

Many old companies rely on exports,

Can no new story

According to the statistics of 665 canning Enterprises above Designated Size by the National Bureau of statistics, China’s canning industry produced 8.3171 million tons in 2021, and the main business income of the whole industry was 117.347 billion yuan. The market is very large, but canned food is always a leftover in Chinese consumption habits.

 

Li Yingtao, research director of Analysys analysis brand retail industry center, told kaipineapple finance that the market scale is large, but this scale mainly depends on exports, and Chinese people have very low consumption power for canned food. As the industrialized production line in western countries is relatively mature, the price of canned food is not high, and people with low consumption level often choose it. In addition, there are great differences in shopping habits and cooking habits between China and the West. Canned food is more suitable for the eating habits of western countries. “For example, the shopping habit of westerners is to drive to large supermarkets such as metro, Wal Mart and Sam for a week or half a month, fill the trunk, and then drive back to the suburbs. In this way, they tend to buy food with a long shelf life.”

 

Moreover, the advantages of preservation of canned food are not unique in Chinese cooking techniques. “A long time ago, there was no canned food in China. We would make preserved meat and bacon for preservation and storage. The function of this kind of food, to some extent, has replaced canned food. Moreover, the application of preserved meat is broader than that of canned lunch meat. Fried vegetables and steamed rice can be put. Therefore, canned food is only a supplement to some of our specific consumption scenarios.”

 

In essence, canned food is a kind of food with strong characteristics of the times. It was more popular in wartime and poverty years. Now, it has also been re noticed by consumers because of the special node of the epidemic.

 

Consumers have an “old impression” of canned food, and most of the canned food industry are “old companies”.

 

The canned lunch meat includes Shanghai Meilin, COFCO and Beidaihe, the canned fruit includes Linjiapu and Zhenxin, the canned braised meat includes Gulong food, and the canned lobster fish includes Ganzhu. Most of these old canning enterprises were founded in the 1980s and 1990s. Gulong food has even had a history of nearly 70 years and was founded in 1954.

 

In recent years, some new brands have entered the canned food market. Leisure food brands such as three squirrels and liangpin store have used their brand advantages to launch canned products. Many “online popular brands” such as xiaozhuhehe, wangjiadu, pig leader and lixiangguo have appeared in the lunch meat track. Some food brands focusing on fitness and low fat have also canned chicken breast.

 

Arrange drawings according to public data / open pineapple Finance

 

According to Tianyan survey, there are currently more than 48000 canning related enterprises in China. From 2018 to 2020, more than 4000 enterprises were registered every year. Although there are a large number of canning enterprises in China, from the consumer’s response, there is not much consumption of canning. Occasionally, the above-mentioned old brands still occupy the shelves. It is difficult for new online celebrities to shake the existing consumer mentality.

 

Take lunch meat as an example. The prices of new brands such as Meilin are almost the same as those of new brands such as xiaozhuhehe. The price of new brands such as wangjiadu and lixiangguo, which play the selling point of “new technology”, is about twice that of the above brands.

 

The canned old calendar can’t make its way in today’s consumer market. The old companies are also eager to innovate their playing methods and tell new stories. Lin’s shop launched the canned yellow peach with zero fat, and Shanghai Meilin launched the canned one person food, hoping to capture the hearts of young people.

 

The whole canned food market is still relatively stable.

 

Haodangjia, Shanghai Meilin and chuangkai international are the leading companies in the canning industry, all of which are listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange. According to the disclosed financial data, companies that have been struggling in the canning industry for many years not only make a living by selling cans, but also rely on the strong breeding industry and the export of fresh meat to increase their income.

 

The most famous product of Shanghai Meilin is the canned lunch meat. In its 2021 financial report, the company mentioned that pig breeding, pig slaughtering, deep processing and distribution, beef and mutton, and snack food are its main businesses, of which the beef and mutton business has an operating revenue of 12.8 billion yuan, which is the highest revenue business. The revenue of canned food, that is, deep processing business, was 5.8 billion yuan. In terms of gross profit margin, the highest is also snack food represented by candy and honey. In 2021, the gross profit margin of this part of business was 36.25%, and that of deep processing business was 13.1%.

 

It is difficult to counter attack

Stable and old are the general characteristics of the canned food industry. Even if it is trying hard to adapt to the new diet trend of the Chinese people, the shape and technology of the cans themselves make it impossible to make too many changes beyond this basic framework. This is also the embarrassment of the canned food market.

 

Li Yingtao believes that the canned food market is very mature. “In terms of categories, there are pork, beef and mutton, and many companies are engaged in seafood, vegetables and fruits. As for specific companies, each company is the best at one, for example, Shanghai Meilin is the best at lunch meat. The advantage is that although the market growth is slow and the domestic market size tends to be stable, the external competition it faces is relatively small, and few newly established enterprises are going to do it Canned food. “

 

A person close to a new consumer brand told kaipineapple finance that the new business of Canning is still at a loss. “Because if you want to make a name for yourself in the field of canned food, you must make something innovative. You must be bold in terms of meat content, technology and taste. You can either put more meat, or make it low sugar and low fat, or make it cold and fresh, which will increase the cost, high cost and high price.” Therefore, it is not so easy for new consumer brands to be catfish in the canned food market.

 

Guoxiao, a staff member of wangjiadu luncheon meat, told kaipineapple finance that compared with the old brands such as Meilin and Shibang, wangjiadu still has a lot of market space to tap. “We should first make more consumers aware of the brand, and then understand the products.”.

 

He mentioned that for new brands, in order to break the public’s impression of the unhealthy and cheap canned lunch meat in the past, first, we should work hard on the production process and the selection of food materials. “Our core consumer groups are senior middle-class, cutting-edge white-collar workers and exquisite mothers aged 26-40. These people also have higher requirements for raw materials and processes.” The second is to explore more ways to eat, so that lunch meat is no longer a dispensable food, but to turn it into a common food at home. “The product line also needs to be continuously expanded and enriched to meet different types of consumer groups with different tastes, product specifications, packaging and storage methods.”

 

The aging of cans is also reflected in two aspects. First, cans have not completed the leap to adapt to the times. “Our 3R food has reached a new stage, that is, fresh, high-quality and high-quality. For example, instant noodles have completed this differentiation and leap. Some seasonings such as short shelf life, no preservatives and beef inside are also more affordable. There are more such products, and the price is also higher. But this part of the growth rate is very fast.” Li Yingtao believes that canned food has not completed such differentiation. “Its development path is slower than other categories, and it also lacks a time point for outbreak.”

 

Second, the disadvantages of iron box packaging. Li Yingtao said that Chinese foods such as Dezhou grilled chicken, Beijing roast duck and soy sauce duck are also stored in the market through vacuum plastic packaging, with a shelf life of more than 6 months or even longer. “Compared with canned food, this kind of food is more in line with people’s eating habits.” Therefore, to make consumers more accept this kind of packaged food, they must not do the things produced by the industrial assembly line, but be closer to the freshly baked food in taste, so as to meet the needs of Chinese people, especially at this stage.

 

However, if we want to innovate the packaging, we will fall into the situation of “four unlike”. “Canning has locked the value of this kind of products.” According to Li Yingtao’s analysis, the advantages of canned food itself are transportation and storage. If other new processes are adopted, it is not called canned food in a strict sense. It can only be regarded as a new product developed by the enterprise. “For old brands, if they want to make a big breakthrough, they need to make new products. It is also good for canned food as the basic business to maintain cash flow.”

 

New brands are difficult to enter and new categories are difficult to expand. The embarrassment of canned food comes not only from itself, but also from external shocks.

 

In short, canned food is included in the category of instant food. It has been labeled as junk food together with instant noodles and puffed food. However, in contrast, instant noodles and puffed foods, including ham sausage, are more popular than cans, and their convenience and popularity are also higher than cans. Therefore, in the category of instant food, cans are bound to feel the pressure from other foods.

 

In addition, the fresh food market also poses a great challenge to canned food. Chinese people are more used to buying fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, domestic vegetable markets are widely distributed, there are a large number of supermarkets, and fresh e-commerce is becoming more and more developed. These are convenient channels for fresh food materials, rather than opening the market for cans with long shelf life and less fresh.

 

The same goes for the takeout market. At present, the consumption of canned food is limited to special periods, or when there is no time to cook on weekdays. “When the takeout industry was underdeveloped, you could cook instant noodles and eat a can when you came home from work late at night. However, after the rise of takeout, the convenience advantage of cans was not reflected.” Li Yingtao said.

 

According to this idea, canned food is at the relative end of Chinese consumption habits, and any more convenient product may have a higher priority than canned food. Coupled with the difficulties of canning in innovation and upgrading, it is not difficult to understand its awkward situation.

 

Enron said that the epidemic had given her the opportunity to learn about the technology of canning, and she was no longer so resistant to canning. “But this habit has not been formed for the time being, and she will still buy on demand in the future.”

 

*The pictures in this paper are from unsplas. At the request of the interviewee, Li Qing, Enron and Guoxiao assumed pseudonyms.

Reprint authorization and media business cooperation: Amy (wechat: 13701559246);

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