“Design in China” e15 -So Acai – Bringing Superfood Hype to China

So Acai – Bringing Superfood Hype to China

The boom in the health food segment may be late to China, but it’s here to make a big impact. China’s ‘superfood’ (health and functional food) market has been consistently growing, reaching nearly 208 billion Yuans in 2022. One of the companies impacting this interest in healthy lifestyle changes among the Chinese population is So Acai. It’s a self-claimed superfood brand that markets and sells nutrient-rich, research-backed food options, ranging from powdered blends to nuts to snacks. Founded in 2017 in Guangzhou, So Acai’s founder has studied and lived in the US, where he developed an interest in healthy superfoods like oats, chia seeds, cocoa, and matcha.

The brand is one of the first to market its products as superfoods in the Chinese market. The term superfood is relatively new and originated in the West. It defines foods that pack in the most nutrition and the least calories. Most of these superfoods have plant origins. Their popularity may be attributed to the growing awareness of the benefits of plant-based foods, mainly, the rise of veganism in North America and Europe. But the vegan diet itself is not that popular in China yet, with estimates of only five percent of the country consuming vegan only diet.

So Acai defines its brand as a food company focused on natural ingredients that are clean and nutritious, with transparency in labeling. For any health-focused consumer, those nutritional value labels on the back of the packaging are very important. According to a Food and Drug Administration (US) survey, American consumers are highly familiar with nutritional labels. However, the use of nutritional labeling is comparatively lower among Chinese consumers, as evidenced by a study. This superfood brand is helping change that behavior with more information on its label. It’s also notable that the packaging is similar to the brands you would find in US grocers like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. It’s minimalistic, with mostly glass and paper usage, hinting at the sustainable approach to packaging the brand has taken. However, it doesn’t market its packaging as eco-friendly.

The product offering is eclectic, with five distinct categories: superfoods, superfood blends, sauces (butter and jams), oatmeal, nuts, and snacks. The superfood category is perhaps the most diverse, offering products like cocoa powder, quinoa flakes, hemp protein powder, cinnamon powder, and nutritional yeast. The superfood blend options include three powders that the company produces using advanced techniques that retain the nutritional benefits of the ingredients. While it has its website, it mainly sells on the Chinese ecommerce marketplace giant Taobao. On the platform, it enjoys a near-perfect 4.9 rating, indicating good feedback from customers.

It’s difficult to gauge the popularity and success of the company as financial data on sales isn’t available. But more importantly, the healthy food segment in China is still fragmented and smaller in comparison to, say, traditional Chinese herbs. Still, it’s safe to say that the brand’s approach to health-conscious consumers is comparable with that of American or European brands. The brand has yet to make it to supermarket shelves. But that might not take that long, considering the gradually growing interest of Chinese consumers in superfoods. 

May 2023 edits – Photos of So Acai X R.A.C Coffee crossover Nature in a Bite

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