Sanitarium sends 125,000 boxes of Weet-Bix to China each month
Chinese demand for Western style breakfasts is fuelling Weet-Bix sales and endorsement from a well known TV actress is expected to help push exports up by a further 50 per cent this year.
Sanitarium began selling Weet-Bix in China about eight years ago but the Kiwi breakfast cereal really took off after appearing on Chinese TV drama Ode to Joy earlier this year.
It has just been relaunched under the Nutri-Brex trademark and Sanitarium is using Chinese actress Alyssa Chia for social media promotions that show her eating it for breakfast with a New Zealand family.
Sanitarium international marketing manager Mark Roper said Weet-Bix exports to China had increased from one container a month to about six - that's 125,000 packets - and the cereal was now carried by 1500 stores.
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Although the name was different, the breakfast biscuits were identical to the Weet-Bix made and sold here.
"It's still very early days but the data we've seen says about 15 per cent of Chinese households are buying breakfast cereal, whereas in New Zealand that would be about 90 per cent.
"But Chinese consumers are really interested in Western diets, particularly in New Zealand and Australian-made foods which are very popular for their food safety quality."
After Weet-Bix featured in the Chinese TV drama individual packets of the product sold online for as much as NZ$55 each.
But Roper said Nutri-Brext would be priced at a much more reasonable $8 to $12 in outlets such as the Tmall website. "Certainly nowhere near the $50 figure we saw earlier."
In terms of exports, Chinese sales have now overtaken traditional markets such as the UK where a gluten-free version is also sold under the Nutri-Brex brand.
Exports accounted for just under 10 per cent of total Weet-Bix sales, but they were currently growing faster than domestic sales, Roper said.