Online sales of dairy products slows in China, growth mainly fuelled by infant milk powder and liquid milk

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Infant milk powder is the main driver of dairy product online sales in China in 2018Q1. © Getty Images
Infant milk powder is the main driver of dairy product online sales in China in 2018Q1. © Getty Images

Related tags Milk Dairy Liquid milk Powdered milk

Online sales of dairy products on China's e-commerce platforms grew at a YoY rate of 45.2% in Q1 2018 — the lowest since Q1 2016, according to analysis carried out by China research company Syntun.

The analysis broke down the market performance of liquid milk, infant formula powder, and adult milk powder sold in China’s e-commerce platforms in 2018Q1.

Data was collected from a range of B2C e-commerce platforms, including JD, Suning, Tmall, Amazon, and 

JD and Tmall remained the two most popular e-commerce sites for sales of dairy milk. Although most transactions took place on Tmall (49.5%), the sales revenue was higher for JD (51.2%).

The other e-commerce competitors were far behind the two, with Suning – the third in place, responsible for only 1.1% online sales of dairy milk. 

Sales of dairy products was mainly driven by infant milk powder and liquid milk. Out of all dairy product categories, the two categories occupied a market share of 57.5% and 32.1% respectively in 2018Q1.

The remaining market share of 10.4% came from adult milk powder. Although its market share is smaller, the YoY growth of adult milk powder nearly hit 120% in 2018Q1.

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Top 10 bestselling liquid milk

The top 10 bestselling liquid milk in China's e-commerce space was dominated by homegrown products in 2018Q1.

Although Yili topped the chart for online bestselling liquid milk, it was competitor Mengniu which clinched the most spots – with four products on the 2nd​, 3rd​, 8th​ and 10th ​place.

The duo accounted for 40% of the liquid milk market share.

Guangming, Weidendort, Anchor, and Devondale were the other brands that managed to earn a place in the top 10 position.

Together, the three foreign brands (Weidendort, Anchor, and Devondale) took up 5.6% of the online market share.

On the other hand, it was observed that the market share of high premium liquid milk had dropped 5.4% in 2018Q1, while market share of all other liquid milk categories, including UHT milk, milk beverages, and flavoured milk had increased. 

Top 10 bestselling infant formula

In contrast to liquid milk, foreign brands had the biggest piece of the pie, garnering 63.3% of market share in 2018Q1.

Friso Gold Step 3 was the bestselling product, followed by A2 Platinum Step 3, and Wyeth Illumastep 3.

Out of the three products, Friso was the least expensive, priced at RMB$190.1/Kg, while both A2 and Wyeth products were at least RMB$300/Kg.

Nine out of 10 bestselling infant formula were stage 3 products which cater to infants who are around eight months old.

In terms of market share, Aptamil claimed the top spot, taking 14.3% of the market share. This was followed by Wyeth and Friso, which took 11.8% and 9.9% of the market share.

Yili and Feihe were the only local China brands which managed to squeeze into the top 10. 

On the other hand, the market share of infant milk powder bought via the cross-border e-commerce channel had grew to 36.7% - a 13% increase from last year.

Top 10 bestselling adult milk powder

Australian brand Devondale dominated the online sales of adult milk powder in 2018Q1, with products snatching the 1st​, 3rd​, 4th​ and 6th​ position.

In total, Devondale occupied 16.3% of the market share.

Maxigenes, another Australian brand, was also popular amongst Chinese consumers, with products clinching the 2nd​, 5th​ and 8th​ bestselling spots.

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