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“Why young people don’t love eating snacks anymore?”: Trending hashtag on Chinese social media

Weilong (卫龙), one of China’s most popular snack brands known for its spicy noodles (辣条), is seeing a decrease of 3.5% in revenue for the first time in the past four years. Although as a snack manufacturer, Weilong mainly targets the younger generation of China, mostly under the age of 25 usually with lower purchasing power and higher pricing sensitivity, Weilong has slightly increased the price of its noodle products from 18.1 RMB/kg to 21.1 RMB/kg in 2022, a 19.9% increase from the previous year as well as an increase of 13.5% and 19.9% for its vegetable products and soy products and others, respectively. As a result, the total sales of Weilong’s noodle product line in 2022 decreased by 6.8% from 2021, although there has been a slight increase in sales of vegetable and soy products.

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Chinese youth’s snacking trend under scrutiny

Apart from Weilong, major snack brands and manufacturers including Want Want (旺旺), Three Squirrels (三只松鼠) and Bestore (良品铺子) are also facing a shrinking demand. On Chinese social media Weibo, there has been a heated discussion over #Why young people don’t love eating snacks anymore# (年轻人为什么不爱吃零食了) in the 2nd week of August, viewed over 120 million times in a short four days. 

Unraveling the snack conundrum in China

Source: Weibo, netizens’ comments on why snacks are becoming unpopular in China

Under the hashtag, some netizens have given their own takes on the underlying reasons behind this phenomenon, mostly revolving around health concerns over food additives due to a growing awareness of food safety, rising food prices as well as a growing variety of snack options in the consumer market.

Snacking trends unveiled: Chinese youth’s changing appetites

  • China’s popular snack brand, Weilong, known for spicy noodles, sees a 3.5% revenue drop – its first in four years. Noodle prices increased by 19.9%, leading to a 6.8% sales decline in 2022, while vegetable and soy product sales slightly rose.
  • Other major snack brands like Want Want, Three Squirrels, and Bestore also face decreasing demand. A viral Weibo discussion with over 120 million views in four days delves into why young people are eating fewer snacks.
  • The decline in snack consumption among young people is attributed to several factors. For instance, growing awareness of food safety and health, leading to concerns about additives, rising food prices, and an expanding variety of snack options in the market. These factors collectively contribute to the shift in snack consumption patterns among the youth.