In this update on the natural and organic market food market in China, we report on new advertising rules, a string of health store ‘approvals’ and develoments at Walmart China.

Health Food Consumption Report
Beijing-based Health Weekly last month published a new survey of China’s burgeoning health food market.

The Health Food Consumption Report reveals that pharmacy stores remain the major channel for local consumers to buy health foods, although the specialist health foods channel is growing (see next story). 

The survey shows that 89% of the consumers get information on the category online or on TV. Product effectiveness is the main motivation to buy (23%), followed by quality (22%) and brand reputation (18%).  

While online retailers offer the widest choice, 30% of the consumers surveyed said they would buy health food from pharmacy stores, and 29% said they would buy online. (Source:

Xuzhou approves 16 local food stores
Local government officers in the city of Xuzhou last month announced that 16 local health food businesses have passed the official review and gained honorary title as ‘standard health food shops’.

Since 2016, Xuzhou FDA has required health food stores to meet a set of criteria in order to qualify for ‘honorary health food shop’ status, as part of wider efforts to improve standards in the channel. In 2018, the city’s authority received nearly 50 applications for the title. By the end of this year, the city had approved 40 standard health food shops.

Health brands warned not use celebrities in marketing campaigns
China’s State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) recently released a notice stating that products including drugs, medical equipment, health food and special-use food should not promote their products by hiring celebrities or professionals as spokesman.

SAMR regulations on health product advertising prohibit claims about product efficacy and safety, and requires that advertising does not take the for of ‘disguised’ public health information. 

Walmart China to open US$103.7m distribution centre
US retail giant Walmart China set to launch its first perishable food distribution centre in China.

With a price tag of US$103.7m (RNB700m), the centre will be located in Dongguan city, Guangdong.

“This the largest investment by Walmart since it entered the Chinese market 22 years ago,” Walmart China President and CEO Tan Wern-Yuen told China Daily.

He added that Walmart China has plans to build or refurbish 12 or more of such centres in China over the next two decades.

Picture: UK-based health food chain Holland & Barrett has been expanding its Chinese store portfolio to take advantage of a growing interest in natural health and nutrition products.