Nestlé invests in China’s UHT yoghurt market, faces fierce competition

Publish time:1/9/2018 12:00:00 AM      Source: CCM
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Trying to benefit from China’s booming demand for healthy yoghurt, Nestlé introduced its first Acti-V UHT yoghurt in the domestic market, sold through the Xiamen Yinlu Group, which showed disappointing sales figures in recent years.


In the beginning of December, Nestlé Acti-V UHT yoghurt was presented for the first time at the national dealer meeting 2018 of Xiamen Yinlu Group Co., Ltd. This product includes dietary fibre and sells in 200mL bottles in 2 different taste varieties. 

Acti-V is a functional yoghurt containing special ingredients that appeal to health-conscious shoppers, like its unique ingredient FORTIS, a bifidobacterium that aids digestive health. 

Nestlé has a 60% stake in the Yinlu Group, a Chinese dairy enterprise specialized in the sales of peanut milk. The new product is expected to lift the declining sales of the company by targeting the demand for healthy, functional dairy products for China’s growing middle class. 

Over the last 3 decades, the share price of Nestlé rallied over 14 times, largely attributed to its plentiful strategic acquisitions that helped to diversify and expand its scale and efficiency. 

According to Nestlé, the company is aiming for opportunities across China dairies, particularly in fermented dairy products like yoghurt, cheese and butter that should all are expected to grow in double-digit numbers in the next years. 

Especially the booming demand for yoghurt in China is driving the dairy investments in the middle kingdom. Premium milk products like yoghurt have seen the biggest growth of dairy products as consumers start to choose higher quality products. 

UHT yoghurt, in particular, is expected to witness the fastest growth of more than 20% each year, as many Chinese consumers are showing sins of lactose intolerant and avoid purchasing milk products. In addition to this, UHT dairy products do not need to be stored at low temperatures, allowing it to swiftly expand into more remote areas across China.

At present, the penetration rate of yoghurt products in China in terms of per capita consumption remains low, compared to neighbouring Asian countries like Japan, and South Korea. As demand increases further while household affordability also improves, the average selling price of yoghurt could also see room to increase ahead, as seen from a fairly steady price increase since 2010. 

Selling yoghurt is very popular for manufacturers in China since the profit margins exceed the ones of plain milk by almost double. Currently, the profit margins are at 40%. The high margins enable a good profitably of this business, accounting for a big share of the total revenue for the dairy manufacturers. 

It is important to look at China for any international dairy enterprise, as China is even to overtake the USA as the largest dairy markets by about 4 years, a research study by Euromonitor revealed. 

By now, the segment of yoghurt is mostly covered by Chinese firms, enjoying high-profit margins and booming demand while facing less competition from international players. 

Awarded bottle design

Furthermore, Yinlu Group hopes to attract a growing number of customers with the new design of the yoghurt drink, which packaging design has been awarded before. 

After all, market researches show that the packaging of Yinlu Group has always been in the colours of red and white and looks too old-fashioned to attracted China’s youth which is searching for yoghourt and other beneficial dairy products. 

For example, Nestlé has redesigned its packaging for their Acti-V yoghurt range and resulted in a double-digit growth in product sales and market share in Hong Kong. 

The key challenge for Nestlé was to develop a design language for the brand’s packaging that would clearly communicate the product’s benefits, and create real stand out on the shelf to justify the premium price and increase sales. 

High Competition

Whether Yinlu's launch into UHT yoghurt will be a success needs to be waited for, as competition in the market is significantly fierce. 

For example, stimulated by the huge sales growth of yoghurt in China, the two domestic dairy giants Mengniu and Yili have released their popular products Just Yoghurt and Ambrosial in 2013 already, according to market intelligence firm CCM.


The two new products had a clear negative impact on the UHT yoghurt by Bright Dairy, Momchilovtsi, which sales went down 1.44% YoY in 2015. In 2016, the sales have been estimated at USD1017.60 million, but the company hasn't released any figures on Momchilovtsi since 2015 when it underperformed against a sales target of USD1210.9 million.


Beaten by the fierce competition in China’s UHT yoghurt market, Bright Dairy announced at a press conference in Hong Kong that it launches the product in this new market.


How successful Nestlé Acti-V UHT yoghurt can prove in the booming yoghurt market with high competition and growing demands of customers must be debatable, since it can be considered to be just another me-too product in the market.


About the article

The information for this article comes from CCM’s China Dairy Newsletter. This newsletter gets published monthly and reveals all relevant insights into China’s dairy products, including market trends, company dynamics, import and export data, and all newsworthy stories.


CCM is China’s leading market intelligence provider for the fields of agriculture, chemicals, food & feed. Contact our team at or call us directly at 86-20-37616606.

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