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Chinese Don’t Like Sweet Oreo?

May 30th, 2009 · 5 Comments ·
 
 

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In 1996, Kraft (third largest food company in the world after Nestle and PepsiCo) introduced Oreos to China customers. However, the cookie was not well accepted by Chinese there and the sales had been flat. Nine years later, the marketing team finally did a study and found out some interesting findings. The traditional Oreos were too sweet for Chinese too.

The team has developed 20 prototypes of Oreos which are less sweet. After rounds of feedback, Kraft decided to relaunch a reduced-sugar Oreo specifically for China market. Since then, the revenue has doubled and Oreo has become the number one cookie in China. If you look at this from the business perspective, it is indeed a smart move, though 9 years late. While many US companies are still trying to find foreign markets using their existing products in US, Oreo has learned its lesson.  So, the successful ones are those who localized their products in global market.

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Now, I wonder whether other foods are having too much sugar in them too. A quick check actually confirmed what I said. Breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and soups are among those foods which are getting sweeter than they used to be 30 years ago. Referring to the chart below, if you look at Kellog’s cereal, the sugar was 9.6 gram (per 100 gram) in 1978 and it has increased to 17 gram in year 2007; the sugar content in wholemeal bread has increased from 2.1 gram in year 1978 to 3.7 gram in year 2007.

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Many health watchdogs are encouraging people to cut down on the amount of sodium (salt), but not many are asking food companies to cut down on the use of sugar. Food companies have been using sugar to make up for the lower salt or fat level.  May be, you should not blame them.  After all, everyone is trying hard to increase sales in the competitive market.

Going back to Chinese Oreo, I am not sure whether the consumers there will slowly upping the sugar eventually. When kids start eating them, their tolerance on sugar may slowly go up to the level same with original Oreo sold in US. The other thing, disliking sweet food does not mean Chinese are healthier. Chinese eat salty, oily and spicy foods and they are not exactly low fat cuisine.

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OK, one Oreo, please.

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5 responses so far ↓
  • Yin Teing // May 30, 2009 at 1:57 PM

    Somehow, I never liked the Oreo with the white cream in it. My friends don’t seemed to be crazy about it either. There is one version of Oreo with the chocolate cream- I like that. Thankfully, that version is not being sold much in the supermarket so I am spared from eating it. But I am a Munchy fan.

  • Angie Tan // Jun 2, 2009 at 12:04 AM

    My threshold tolerance towards sugar has decreased somewhat and now, I find stuff like Oreo too sweet for me.

    Anyway, a bigger concern is that while food manufacturers are reducing the sugar/salt/fat content in their food, ever noticed that the ingredient is being replaced by substitutes?

  • JBing // Nov 5, 2009 at 1:13 AM

    Chinese people do not like sickly-sweet foods. The Chinese are healthier – notice how fat Chinese people are rare. Plus – Chinese people have faster metabolisms than Caucasians

    Probably about 1 in 2 people in USA are fat. Salty/Oily/Spicy? The food at Chinese restaurants is very heavy – they eat lighter foods at home.

    However – KFC and McDonalds has proved successful in China – and their eating habits of high-fat, high sugar, high calorie diet is becoming more and more Westernised.

  • Leo // Dec 16, 2009 at 1:26 AM

    What you going on about JBing. Just look at life expectancy of Westerners. Longer than Chinese people. Also, your KFC Mac Donalds comment shows how ignorant you are just as your “western” comment does. What does the word “western” mean to you? That would includes a lot of countries, ALL of which are VERY different from each other. Think and use your brain before you post. Don’t just sprout out things that have been repeatedly said to you since you were born.

    Did you know France (a “western country” for your information) did not have a Mac Donalds until ????. Also, places like KFC and Mac Donalds are considered junk food the west. It’s also where poor people eat because it’s the cheapest food there is. Unlike in China where as recently as 9 years ago Chinese businessmen would take their dates to Mac Donalds. (That was such a funny sight).

    Have you ever been to a “western” food restaurant? You’d be surprised. It’s not just hamburgers and fries. I understand you probably have never tried real “western” food. In China, to eat in a restaurant that serves “western” food, you’d have to spend a minimum of 100 kuai (and that’s for cheap, low quality “western” food).

    I’ll say you are right that Chinese people eat very light and healthy at home, but why does food in Chinese restaurants have to be so unhealthy? What’s with all the oil and salt?

  • Leo // Dec 16, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    Oh, and one more thing. And this is probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing. When you eat sweet stuff like Oreos (and other sweet things like this), you are supposed to eat a few (maybe 2 or 3) and save the rest for another day. You’re not supposed to eat a whole bag. (I’ve seen Chinese people eat a the whole bag in one sitting -which is sickening even to watch- or eat a whole cake in one sitting then complain how sweet it is. Duh, you ate the whole bag dude!). Ever notice how when you finish your meal in a Chinese restaurant there is a HUGE amount of oil left sitting in the bottom of the plate. And how, when the food came in the first place it was drowning in oil (I wish I could post pictures here of food drowning in oil, or of finished dishes with I’d say at least one cup of oil left behind). I’ve seen people buy 4 or 5 four litre drums of cooking oil in the supermarkets here. It’s sick just to look at. Especially when you know each 4 litre bottle of oil only lasts a month or so). In the “west” (let’s pick another country and say Italy) this time, people tend to use healthier oils (olive oil (which is actually good for you)). Still however it is used in moderation. A 500ml bottle of oil may last up to 6 months. And that’s even if people cook every day.

    So please think before you post and don’t over generalise or stereotype. You just make yourself sound stupid (or like a 50 cent party member (五毛党)) when you do. If you don’t know what a 50 cent party member is, see here:

    http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E7%BD%91%E7%BB%9C%E8%AF%84%E8%AE%BA%E5%91%98

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